5 things you can do to counter misinformation

A decade ago, we elected our first “social media politicians,” and we had hope that the internet would enable more accountability, openness, and trust in government. What many did not expect was the amount of misinformation that would spread as the internet democratized information and knowledge. Here are five things you can do to fight misinformation and counter its influence.

1. Spot misinformation and the motives behind it.

In today’s media climate, it’s becoming harder and harder to tell what’s real and what isn’t. We’re bombarded daily with (mis)information that’s trying to change the way we think about our government, our leaders, and even each other. We invite you to watch Mozilla’s original documentary short, Misinfo Nation: Misinformation, Democracy, and the Internet. Find out how to spot misinformation and seek out the truth.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFmUbVR7VSo

2. Get educated on election meddling.

Election interference has been happening for centuries, but the misinformation spread online adds a new level of meddling opportunity. In the Season 3 finale of the IRL podcast, Veronica Belmont explores how social media campaigns, online propaganda, and data mining are all racing to impact the way we vote. Have a listen:

3. Keep Facebook off your trail.

Facebook lets political advertisers target you with content — information and misinformation — by tracking your activity on and off their platform.

Firefox’s new U.S. Election bundle makes it easier to explore the Web without Facebook watching, and also enables you to participate in ProPublica’s effort to flag misinformation. It’s a win-win for you and the Web.

4. Learn why we’re all susceptible.

Writer and cultural critic Baratunde Thurton argues that because credible publications are given the same weight as non-credible publications online, we need to be more diligent to identify what is true.https://youtu.be/3FIVXBawyQw

5. Vote.

While it may seem like we’re living in a world divided, the truth is out there. And we all have the ability to vote, based upon it. Make sure you’re registered.

3 Ways to Create a More Human Workplace

Photo credit: NEonBrand

In 2019, we are part of a global economy whether we admit it or not. Technology has taken business to new heights. Employees from entry level to executive management work from wherever they happen to be. We know where we are, and we know how we got here. However, even experts in the field of E-Commerce cannot pinpoint where we are going.

Technology’s growth

In 2009, less than 15% of people were connected to the internet. By 2019, 40% were connected to the internet. That means over three billion people were using computers by 2019. To many countries, this was the beginning of a new economy.

In places like India and the Philippines, this was an opportunity for under-employed and unemployed people to get work. Wages that were unacceptable to employees in the Western world, were gladly taken by labor forces in lower income countries.

In a five year period (2014 – 2019) more than 213 million people were added to the virtual job market.

Executives and High-Skilled Employees

Technology continued to grow. Executives and upper management found themselves connected to technology around the clock. They utilized their computers, tablets, and smartphones to conduct business 24-hours per day. By now, not only their employee base was global, so were their customers. With the help of award-winning solutions to complex issues, they defined programs that work globally. They began to look for more people to work virtually.  

Corporations hired virtual assistants, marketing directors, and salespeople that would work out of their homes. While this level employee got a rate of pay that is competitive in the Western job market, corporations saved money on offices, insurance, and costs associated with having employees in their office. Employees liked the freedom and flexibility of working at home. But, this was just the beginning.

The need for highly skilled IT employees skyrocketed. They began to demand higher salaries. The national average for skilled IT employees is a little over $50,000.00 per year. But that does not include commissions, bonuses, and profit sharing. When you add the additional benefits, it is not unusual for their salary to hit $ 75,000.00 per year. Further, this only accounts for 50% of the employees in the field. Roughly 10% earn $36,000.00 per year. The balance are drawing salary and benefits that average $96,000.00 per year and more.

Examples of big companies paying big money to a their IT executives include:

  • AT&T – $72,046 plus bonuses and benefits
  • IBM – $77,779.00 plus bonuses and benefits
  • U.S.A. Internal Revenue Service – $117,380.00 plus bonuses and benefits

While these salaries are climbing to new heights, the employees in poorer countries are stunningly low. For example, IBM hires call center employees in India. The average salary they pay these people is from 9,000 to 10,000 rupees per month. Converting the rupee to the dollar, IBM is paying people in entry level jobs in India $126.52 per month. Is it any wonder that employees in India outnumbered the number of IBM employees in the United States?

Photo credit: selenajain

Making the workplace more human

In order to have a more human workplace, we must allow workers to stand tall on their culture. Do not confuse teaching them English with teaching them to become more English. They have their own culture, traditions, and code of ethics. In any workplace, a person wants to be appreciated.

  1. Hire people not numbers

When an entry level employee is hired in India (for example) they are given a few weeks of training. The main focus of this training is to teach the employee how to speak in English so they are understood.  If a company cares about their employees they want them to

feel empowered to share ideas and point out issues. When we stop encouraging this behavior, we turn our managers into bullies and our employee into little more than a robot.

   2. Encourage people to try for something better

In the United States we would not dare speak to an employee with disrespect and contempt. Allow room for growth. Engage employees in the process of doing their jobs well, and recognize their efforts. Supervisors should the helping them to be the best they can be, and he should be held accountable for those who he manage

3. Trust and flexibility

People feel the strain when they are micromanaged. They also lose all faith in this situation. You have created a place where the only contact your employees have is their supervisor. If this person in a position of power over them, doesn’t share the credit and still blames the employees for problems that come up, they cannot form a trust of him. In their eyes, he represents you. Therefore, employees will not form loyalty, trust, and security with your company. The complete lack of trust is what leads call center employees away.

Industry is changing but not all changes are good. Taking the time to hire the right people to train employees is priceless. If the next 5-years show the same growth in technology (and there is no reason to believe otherwise) your low level employees will be in a position to train them. Your employees are an investment. But, they are also people. So be kind, respectful, and let them shine.


Essential Digital Marketing Tools for Agencies

Evеrу digital strategy model hаѕ аn “Inѕіghtѕ” ѕtаgе, where wе соllесt аnd аnаlуѕе information аbоut the environment wе аrе operating in.

 Knоw Whаt Yоu Wаnt (& Sеt thе Objесtіvе)

 Nаіl Yоur Mission:

Define уоur buѕіnеѕѕ’ overall mіѕѕіоn/оbjесtіvе fіrѕt – уоur digital marketing mission must fit іntо уоur grand рlаn.

Answer this quеѕtіоn:

What is the оvеrrіdіng оbjесtіvе you wаnt your digital marketing еffоrtѕ tо асhіеvе?(fоr еxаmрlе do уоu wаnt to position уоur company аѕ thе go-to online рrоvіdеr fоr computer раrtѕ in Eurоре)?

Thіѕ іѕ уоur mіѕѕіоn.

 Set & Mеаѕurе Yоur KPIѕ:

Get specific wіth your KPIѕ bу іdеntіfуіng thе fіgurеѕ уоu wіll be hеld ассоuntаblе fоr achieving.

Gеt rеаlіѕtіс with your KPIѕ bу analyzing уоur рrеvіоuѕ dіgіtаl mаrkеtіng efforts first – thіѕ will еnѕurе уоu аіm for a positive increase on your сurrеnt rеѕultѕ, while hеlріng you to avoid ѕеttіng уоur еxресtаtіоnѕ too high.

Idеntіfу a mеthоd tо help уоu measure еасh of your KPIѕ – for еxаmрlе, wіll уоu use Gооglе Anаlуtісѕ tо measure уоur соnvеrѕіоnѕ, your іndіvіduаl ѕосіаl mеdіа analytics to trасk engagement оr a tооl lіkе BuzzSumо to аѕѕеѕѕ the ѕuссеѕѕ оf уоur content mаrkеtіng?

Anаlуѕе Yоur Pаѕt (& Lеаrn From Your Mistakes)

Yоu dоn’t hаvе tо (аnd shouldn’t) gо into thе planning реrіоd іn thе dаrk. Anаlуzіng your dіgіtаl marketing ѕtrаtеgу’ѕ past ѕuссеѕѕ аnd fаіlurеѕ can hеlр focus уоu on ѕеttіng thе best KPIѕ fоr уоur business.

Chооѕе a tіmе period уоu’d like to аnаlуѕе (іt’ѕ bеѕt tо set thіѕ tіmе реrіоd as the ѕаmе length оf tіmе уоu рlаn fоr your new mаrkеtіng ѕtrаtеgу) – fоr еxаmрlе dесіdе оn whether you’re gоіng tо аnаlуѕе thе previous уеаr, quаrtеr оr month.

 Hоw tо Anаlуѕе:

Determine the tіmе period уоu wоuld lіkе to аnаlуѕе аnd set уоur Gооglе Anаlуtісѕ саlеndаr tо match thіѕ tіmеfrаmе.

Dоn’t fоrgеt tо analyze уоur соmреtіtоrѕ’ mаrkеtіng strategy tоо – create аn analysis ѕрrеаdѕhееt оf thеіr оnlіnе activities (you саn uѕе SEMruѕh tо identify the SEO strategy оf a соmреtіtоr, i.e. whаt kеуwоrdѕ аrе drіvіng thе largest volume оf оrgаnіс trаffіс tо thеіr website.

It саn аlѕо bе uѕеd to соmраrе thе organic аnd раіd trаffіс оf dіffеrеnt wеbѕіtеѕ ѕо аgаіn quite uѕеful to see hоw аggrеѕѕіvе thеу’rе bеіng with their paid ѕреnd.)

Aѕk yourself this question аt rеgulаr intervals: is there аnуthіng else I need to аnаlуѕе that I hаvеn’t thоught оf bеfоrе – е.g. ѕhоuld I bе tеѕtіng thе tіmеѕ I post mу content or thе types оf images I uѕе?


Having thе rіght ѕеt оf analytics tооlѕ is vіtаl – a gооd analysis tооl will gіvе уоu аll thе dаtа уоu nееd tо know about campaigns thаt you’re runnіng, projects аnd other kеу mеtrісѕ fоr your соmраnу’ѕ аll-rоund performance. Thеу can аlѕо gіvе your vаluаblе іnѕіght іntо your customers’ behavior раttеrnѕ.

 Google Anаlуtісѕ

As оnе оf thе tор frее tools frоm Gооglе, Anаlуtісѕ ѕhоuld bе part of your digital mаrkеtіng ѕtrаtеgу frоm thе vеrу ѕtаrt.

It only tаkеѕ a соuрlе оf minutes tо аdd thе Anаlуtісѕ соdе to уоur website, gіvіng уоu thе аbіlіtу to track every action bу every vіѕіtоr.

This іѕ соnѕіdеrеd bу mаnу tо bе nothing more than a traffic tооl, but іt саn асtuаllу hаvе a bіg іmрасt оn уоur marketing ѕtrаtеgу, іf уоu knоw whаt уоu’rе dоіng.

Mауbе уоu rеаlіzе that a particular ѕосіаl mеdіа саmраіgn is driving tоnѕ оf traffic tо your wеbѕіtе. Wіth this dаtа, уоu саn аdjuѕt уоur future strategy, in аn аttеmрt to сарturе the ѕаmе rеѕultѕ.

Or, mауbе уоu fіnd thаt a раrtісulаr ѕеt of kеуwоrdѕ іѕ dоіng wonders fоr уоur оrgаnіс traffic. Again, уоu can turn уоur аttеntіоn tо these kеуwоrdѕ, ensuring thаt you kеер thеѕе in mіnd аѕ уоu сrеаtе соntеnt down thе rоаd.

Gооglе Anаlуtісѕ isn’t оnе of those tооlѕ thаt уоu ѕhоuld ignore. Installing thіѕ еаrlу on іѕ a key dесіѕіоn, іn rеgаrdѕ to уоur оnlіnе mаrkеtіng ѕtrаtеgу. Thе data уоu can collect аnd rеvіеw іѕ extremely vаluаblе.

 Website Sрееd Test

Prоѕресtіvе сuѕtоmеrѕ want іnfоrmаtіоn fаѕt. Thеу dоn’t have time tо wait for fоr a wеbѕіtе to load – thеу’ll just hор over to уоur соmреtіtоr. Grеаt uѕеr еxреrіеnсе starts wіth a uѕеr асtuаllу being able tо experience уоur ѕіtе.

Page lоаd time greatly аffесtѕ conversion rаtеѕ. In fасt, if your раgе lоаd tіmе increases frоm оnе tо оnlу thrее seconds, уоu соuld see your bоunсе rate іnсrеаѕе by 32%, Thіѕ іѕ whу іt’ѕ vіtаl уоu have a tооl in your росkеt tо mеаѕurе уоur wеbѕіtе’ѕ speed оn a regular bаѕіѕ. If уоu are nоtісіng drорѕ іn traffic, or іnсrеаѕеѕ іn bounce rаtе – уоur раgе ѕрееd could bе thе cause.

 PR Management

How саn you easily mоnіtоr mеntіоnѕ оf уоu and your buѕіnеѕѕ оn thе іntеrnеt? The аnѕwеr іѕ Google Alеrtѕ. It’ѕ super ѕіmрlе tо uѕе. All you nееd tо dо іѕ сrеаtе аn alert fоr a dеѕіrеd kеуwоrd. Gооglе wіll send уоu аn email uрdаtе іf аnу nеw mеntіоnѕ of уоu оn thе internet рор uр.

If аnоthеr blog іѕ tаlkіng about your рrоduсt, you саn dіѕсоvеr it vіа this alert аnd promote thе аrtісlе оn уоur ѕосіаl media. If уоu fіnd a сuѕtоmеr venting about you, you саn reach out аnd rесtіfу the ѕіtuаtіоn. It’ѕ a great beginner tool for public rеlаtіоnѕ management.

 Programmatic Advеrtіѕіng Tools

Prоgrаmmаtіс аdvеrtіѕіng rеfеrѕ to thе use оf ѕоftwаrе to automate the рurсhаѕе of mеdіа from bоth online аnd offline channels. In оthеr words, аdѕ are purchased and displayed automatically bаѕеd on dаtа.

Two of thе lаrgеѕt benefits оf using рrоgrаmmаtіс mеdіа buуіng ѕоlutіоnѕ іѕ уоu саn rеduсе the tіmе уоu spend finding thе bеѕt nеtwоrkѕ tо advertise. Sесоndlу, уоu gain ассеѕѕ tо the рlеthоrа оf dаtа thаt mоѕt оf this соmраnіеѕ hаvе access tо.

 Audience Data

Technology is able tо рrосеѕѕ a ton оf аudіеnсе data and dіѕсеrn whісh of іt is асtuаllу useful knоwlеdgе fоr brаndѕ. You can uѕe thаt іnfоrmаtіоn to рrореrlу target аdѕ tо your audiences іt knows will bе a gооd fіt, bооѕtіng thе rеlеvаnсе оf уоur аdѕ tо уоur tаrgеtѕ.

Rеmеmbеr, the purpose оf уоur strategy document is to map оut the асtіоnѕ you’re gоіng to tаkе to achieve уоur goal over a реrіоd оf tіmе аѕ lоng as it соmmunісаtеѕ thаt, thеn you’ve nailed thе bаѕісѕ оf creating a digital ѕtrаtеgу.

By Catherine Park

White Label SEO Reseller Services


Helpful Tips to Ace Your Job Interview


Any mention of the term ‘job interview’ and you might find your palms sweating and your heart beginning to race. The good news is you aren’t alone. According to a study of 1,000 working men and women, 92 percent reported being nervous about job interviews, whether it was general anxiety, fear of being unprepared, or fear of being late. It’s okay to be a little nervous about a job interview, but knowing what to expect and being prepared are good ways to lower those interview jitters.

Do Your Homework

“Tell me what you know about us.” Your mind immediately goes blank and you realize that, in all your preparation, you forgot to research the company. You know they are a marketing firm, but an answer like that certainly won’t suffice. So, what should you know? While you don’t need to be able to name every employee, knowing the key players, such as the president and/or CEO, won’t hurt. Brush up on the company culture, mission, and values, and make sure you are up to speed on clients, products, services, and any recent company news. Put the information you find on a notecard, and review it daily leading up to the interview. If you can, avoid providing a canned response. You want to sound as natural as possible and show that you have researched enough to explain what you know about the company without sounding like you’re reading off their website.

Prepare for Questions

The key piece of the interview is the questions, and for many people this is the most dreaded and nerve-wracking part of the entire job-search process. It is important that you look up potential questions before the interview so you can practice your answers to both the easy and tough ones. This will also help you avoid a situation where you freeze up and provide an answer that doesn’t adequately answer the question or convey what you really wanted to say. You should also be aware of inappropriate questions, such as anything about race, marital status, children, disabilities, and religion.

Dress to Impress

What you say in the interview is important, but what you wear says a lot about your degree of professionalism, too. To start, scope out the company website and social media pages to get an idea of what is typically worn to the office. However, just because it seems super casual doesn’t mean you should show up in your comfiest sweatpants. Casual attire could be dark jeans, a knee-length skirt, or slacks with a blouse, cardigan, or button down. Business casual is dressier, and could mean dress pants, a pencil skirt, or slacks with a button down, jacket, blazer, or tie. Women have the added step of determining what to do with hair, nails, and makeup. Hair should be sleek and kempt; it is best to pull it back in a bun or ponytail so you aren’t tempted to play with it. Makeup should be natural, as should your nails, so leave the crazy colors and glitter for another day.

Bring the Right Swag

You might think you are on the right track by simply arriving on time to the job interview, but have you brought along the essentials? In order to secure the interview, you probably already sent your resume and references. Many interviewers will bring a copy to the interview, but a few extras won’t hurt. Plus, it’s a good place to jot down important information, such as directions and contact info. Be sure to bring a list of questions you’d like to ask the interviewer, including ones about the day-to-day responsibilities, job expectations, company culture, top competitors, and career trajectory. This is not the time to ask about salary, as this is something that should only be discussed in the final steps of the job interview process when you meet with the hiring manager or someone from human resources. However, the end of the interview is an appropriate time to ask about how to follow up.

Job interviews are a source of anxiety for many people, but don’t let your fear keep you from acing it. The key is to be as prepared as possible. Research the company, practice your interview answers, wear the right attire, and bring the essentials. All that’s left is to be yourself and put your best foot forward!

Dream Big, Work Small: Starting Your Own Business From Home

Many people are working from home these days. Some employees telecommute for their jobs, but others are self-employed freelancers, entrepreneurs, independent contractors and consultants. Running a home-based business means freedom and flexibility, but it also means putting in the hard work to make the business grow.

A home-based business doesn’t flourish overnight unless you have a product that goes viral. It takes work to build a clientele and prove your brand in the competitive freelance market.

What kind of home-based business can you have? It can be any product or service that a big company offers. It simply means that you’re running it from home without a big staff or overhead, and you are in charge. Some jobs that come to mind are creative skills like writing and designing, post-production video, blogging, social media consultancy, handmade crafts or teaching music lessons.

If you don’t have a specialized skill like one of the above jobs, you can provide everyday services like pet sitting or house cleaning. Being a pet sitter has many advantages, such as setting your own schedule and prices. You can set the size, age, and other pet preferences that work for you. If you’re an animal lover, pet sitting is a stress-free way to make money and spend time doing what you love with great company.

Running your own business means you can set your own hours and rates. It might be tempting to charging less initially to attract clientele, but be cautious about doing this long-term. Not only is it detrimental to your success, but it also deflates the market rate and causes the rest of the industry to suffer. Once you charge low, clients will expect to get a deal, and it’ll become difficult to move out of the “cheap” range. You can slowly and gradually raise your rates to avoid the shock of a sudden price spike. If you’re providing a great service and building relationships with your clients, then you’ll be irreplaceable.

The hard part is finding those clients to begin with. Since there’s a website/job board for just about every type of freelance job, you can post or reply to ads online. Try Fiverr, Thumbtack and Task Rabbit for service-based or project-based work.

If you’re offering a creative service, you’ll need to show a portfolio. Your portfolio can be filled with practice projects showing your graphic design or writing skills. You can also use Fiverr to offer inexpensive design work for your portfolio, or offer freebies to friends so that your portfolio shows a variety of brands.

The other hard part about working from home is staying disciplined and productive. Just because you get to work in your pajamas and not commute doesn’t give you an excuse to be lazy. Treat your home business like an office job. Wake up at the same time everyday, get ready, eat breakfast, and work in a designated spot. Your office should not be on your bed, but in a separate room like a dining room or balcony. The fewer opportunities you have to snooze, the better. Take a lunch break in the middle of the day, and sign off at the end of the day.

As your start your business, look into using these free or low-cost tools:

  • Paypal for payments
  • Mailchimp for email marketing
  • Hootsuite for social media management
  • Wrike for project management
  • GoToMeeting or Skype for video conferencing

Your payments can come in any form: direct deposit, checks, cash, or Paypal. But make sure you’re able to track the payment, and keep a spreadsheet of your earnings each year. Since freelancers use a 1099 for taxes, your taxes won’t be deducted like they would by an employer. You’ll want to set aside 25-30% from each payment for your taxes. Another option is to become an official business.

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to be your own boss. Now put pedal to the metal and start working your tail off. The effort will be worth the reward once you get into a flow and start seeing results. Most importantly, don’t give up your dream.


The Top Digital Marketing Trends for 2018?

Chart of the Day: Which online marketing techniques are marketers most excited by this year?

In my article covering digital marketing trends for 2018 we asked readers of our blog to give their views on the digital marketing techniques which they felt would give them the biggest uplift in incremental revenue in 2018. So, I was interested to see this new Econsultancy-Adobe research which asks a similar question. These are the research results:

Read the full article: http://bit.ly/2HqAJO3

The State of Digital Marketing 2018

In an increasingly high-tech world in which artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are rapidly accelerating our understanding of customers and paving innovative pathways to reaching them more intuitively, digital marketers have to ask themselves a logical question: Are the robots coming for my job too? No, not yet. Those tasked with reaching more eyeballs and raising brand awareness online can likely bolster their job security by staying ahead of important trends and carefully watching industry developments.

Carol Eversen, CMO of ALM, says that digital marketing has evolved from a separate functional role within the marketing department to a primary enabler that all marketers should be using to conduct business. “Many marketers are still coming up to speed on digital technologies and struggling to deliver explicitly on the goal of ROI optimization. Also, the pace of change is high, making it challenging for even seasoned digital marketers to stay on top of all the changes,” says Eversen. She also notes that no professional can claim to be an expert in all digital channels (SEO, paid search, social, video, account-based marketing, content marketing, etc.).

Eric Johnson, digital content creator for FeedbackWrench, agrees. “Digital marketers are always going to struggle to keep up with the changing landscape that online platforms present,” Johnson says. “The platforms that are popular now change almost daily, and it’s always possible that new platforms will come along. Marketers who are slow to adapt to these changes risk being left behind.”

Reach and scalability remain vexing too. “It becomes harder and harder to gain attention and engagement of consumers who expect less interaction, yet more personalization across an exploding number of marketing channels and technology devices,” says Chatmeter CEO Collin Holmes.

Read the full article: http://bit.ly/2HPBtvv

The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing Tools that Won’t Cost a Cent

From professionally produced marketing videos to influencer campaigns and automation software, staying within your digital marketing budget while still driving growth is easier said than done. While some pieces of your marketing strategy aren’t exactly cost flexible, there are plenty of helpful free resources that digital marketers and small business owners can use to craft, launch, and manage far-reaching campaigns.

Use this comprehensive list of all the free digital marketing tools you can use to improve your strategy.


Google deserves its own section for digital resources. With a clear intent to improve the search experience, Google has made it part of its mission to provide webmasters, bloggers, influencers and digital marketers a cornucopia of free tools and resources.

Google Analytics – You’re probably already using Analytics. It is, after all, the most widely used web developer tool. Google Analytics will elegantly track the following metrics for your website, giving you enough data to swim in:

  • Website traffic
  • Real time visitors
  • Traffic sources
  • Keywords used to reach your pages
  • Bounce rate
  • Device usage of your visitors
  • Most popular pages
  • Social media engagement
  • Conversion tracking of your AdWords campaigns

Google Keyword Planner – For attracting more traffic to your site and devising strategic keyword campaigns for your blog posts, videos and social media posts, you don’t necessarily require a paid service. With Google’s free Keyword Planner, you can plug in a keyword and get a generated list of related search terms, along with important search volume statistics like average monthly searches and the level of competition for each specific keyword.

Google Alerts – This resource will help you stay on top of industry news, digital marketing trends and anything else you want to keep track of. Instead of wasting time searching for the information you need every time you want to look something up, Google Alerts is a free web app you can use to better manage your marketing research.

Google Trends – Want to know what’s being talked about in your industry right now? With Google Trends, you can quickly find out what the trending topics are in relation to a particular search term – pure gold for identifying prime keywords for a quick blog or social post.

Google Drive, Docs, Webmaster Tools, Trends, Sheets, Calendar, and Voice. All free, all helpful and all offer more, the more sophisticated you become with using them.

Read the full article: http://bit.ly/2qXuGGC

How to Create More Effective Content When Resources Are Thin

The power of content marketing to achieve marketing goals can become a sort of catch-22 for small to mid-sized businesses, startups, and any organization that doesn’t boast a six-figure content budget.

Because it’s so effective – pretty much every high performing business is using content, with 91 percent of B2B organizations and 86 percent of B2C brands using it – the reality is, there is a flood of content out there.

And, all of it is competing for consumer attention.

How in the world can your content compete with stuff like this?

Read the full article: http://bit.ly/2HqH6B9 

2017 E-Commerce Holiday Shopping Strategies + 10 Website Conversion Rate Boosters

This article is by Evan Weber, originally published in LinkedIn.

Hello there, and thanks for taking a look. Holiday shoppers are starting even earlier than ever this year than ever before with starting their online holiday shopping, so I’ve put together some information and strategies for getting ready for and maximizing the holiday shopping season for your ecommerce business. Some of the channels this article will be discussing include: website optimization, email marketing, search engine advertising, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, visitor retargeting, effective tools to use, and more.

Key 2017 Holiday Shopping Dates:


5 – Bonfire Night (UK)

11 – Veterans’ Day (US)

11 – Single’s Day (China)

23 – Thanksgiving

24 – Black Friday

25 – Small Business Saturday (US)

27 – Cyber Monday


2 – Small Business Saturday (UK)

4 – Manic Monday

11 – Green Monday

15 – Free Shipping Day

24 – Christmas Eve, Super Saturday

25 – Christmas Day

26 – Boxing day

31 – New Years Eve

Website-Oriented Holiday Marketing Strategies:

  1. Holiday themed main graphic on the homepage; frequent holiday promotions, best sales of the year. -> Free Shipping is the #1 promotion that motivates consumers to purchase online.
  2. Holiday themed company logo – Adding a little graphical flair to your company logo for the holidays like: garland, snow, pieces of a wreath, and other related touches, is a really nice look.
  3. “Pre-Holiday Deals” Page – add a page on the website that can be linked to, with a graphic on the homepage, in the header, and/or in the side column. And then promoted via email blasts, social network posts, and ads.
  4. Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals Pages – Create pages on your website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Deals that can be linked to via email, Facebook, and the home page’s main graphic. Create blog posts for “Top 10” lists for multiple product categories, such as “Top 10 Black Friday Deals on Gadgets.” By including your retargeting cookie on your article/blog pages, it can add to your re-marketing reach during the holidays.
  5. Holiday themed header/footer – Adding some ornaments, garland, or other holiday items can add a nice season touch and make visitors know you’re timely. The header and footer are good places to advertise promotions as well.
  6. Free Shipping Offer – consumers love free shipping, it’s the #1 promotion in ecommerce. Push it in your emails, website graphics, social network pages, live chat, and in the phone sales center.
  7. Server Load – Make sure your website server can handle the influx of traffic very well and is loading as quickly as possible at all times. A NO EXCUSES POLICY needs to be in effect. Nothing kills conversions like a slow loading website. Check into “load balancing” and server error reporting, to keep an eye on it. Use website monitoring alerts so you know when your site goes down.
  8. Abandoned Shopping Cart Follow-ups -Use abandoned shopping cart follow-up emails to convert more visitors. We have a couple of providers for that. It’s a must in high-volume traffic timeframes. See SaleCycle.com for shopping cart abandonment followups and on-site offers.
  9. Mobile Website – make sure you have a great mobile version of your website live. I recommend mShopper or similar tools to create an easily shop-able website for the phone, if you don’t have a true mobile website. But there are other plug and play apps if you don’t have a custom built mobile app. You absolutely need a mobile version of your site this time of year with more people shopping on their phones.
  10. Pro-Active Live Chat – I LOVE this tool!! Pops up from the footer on all visitors with a Holiday themed box stating, “Happy Holidays, can we help you with anything?” It’s an info first, promotion second chat management strategy that adds the human element to your web traffic, tracked with coupon codes. It’s a proven strategy to increase conversion rates! I really like Olark.com but there are others.

Search Engine-Related Q4 Holiday Strategies: Search is still a hugely important factor in driving targeted traffic and revenue during the holidays.

  1. SEO – Blog Posts – post about holiday deals, ex. 10 Top Holiday Gifts for Kids for 2017 (insert product category). Numerous blog posts can be written targeting people searching for the top gifts of the year for various categories. Check your Google Analytic reports from last year and see what search phrases brought people to your website during the holiday season, to guide both your SEO optimization and keyword buying. If you can see which phrases led to sales, even better to guide your content posting and keyword advertising.
  2. SEM – Paid Search (Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Shopping Engines) – making sure your paid search ads are updated with holiday offers this time of year, especially for your branded terms. Expand keyword lists into holiday gift related product and niche search phrases. Add holiday content to your product catalog, titles and descriptions. You will have to revise it back afterwards, but it could be both a way to increase targeted traffic and appear timely to visitors, which should increase conversion rates.

Affiliate Marketing Holiday Strategies:

  1. Add holiday banner ads, text links, and offers/promotions for your affiliate marketers.
  2. Push out more frequent affiliate newsletters with deals and promotions for your affiliates to promote. Affiliate marketing is promotion driven, so make sure to ramp up your sending of promotions to your affiliates. Affiliate marketers love promotions, in fact don’t expect them to promote your company without arming them with frequent, good promotions for their audience.
  3. Recruit holiday-oriented affiliates and publishers, such as gift site affiliates, shopping affiliates, cash back sites, loyalty portals, and other holiday or shopping related affiliates. Contact me if you need affiliate recruiting campaigns conducted, my agency is the best in the business at both recruiting new affiliates and managing affiliates to get them producing more revenue.

Influencer Marketing Strategies:

  1. Influencer Outreach – it’s a good idea to conduct outreach to social media influencers that reach the audiences that you want to get in front of for the holiday shopping season. We use a tool called Cision.com to target influencers, journalists, bloggers and other types of content producers on behalf of our clients.
  2. Dedicated Promotions – giving your influencers dedicated promo codes that they can market to their audience is a great way to track the results. A lot of times they are charging fees to market to their audience so it’s imperative to measure the results.

If you need Influencer outreach campaigns, contact me about it. We can create online press releases and then promote the releases to an influencer audience that we create through Cision. Cision is an expensive annual membership that we subscribe to, so you can leverage their contacts and the influencer outreach strategy by hiring my agency to run your influencer outreach campaigns. Contact me for more information.

Email Marketing Holiday Q4 Strategies:

  1. Email HTML Creatives – Launch a series of beautiful holiday-themed email offers for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and then leading up to Christmas, and then Post-Holiday Deals. (My designer can whip these up in a day or 2 if you need HTML emails turned around quickly). Increasing your email sending frequency is very advisable during November and December. Also, make sure you are using pop-up boxes on the website to increase email collection from your increased holiday website traffic. You should be able to really increase your email list when your website’s holiday traffic increases, which feeds into the following year.
  2. Test Subject Lines – Refine subject lines, include first name in the subject line whenever possible. “Best deals of the holiday season, Evan!” Make sure to emphasize deep discounts and other timely promotions. Keep your subject lines as short as possible.
  3. Responsive Designed HTML Emails – these are mobile friendly emails and a must for the holiday season since more than 60% of email openers are doing it on smartphones. (We are able to design and code responsive emails, just let me know).
  4. Email Platform – Make sure you have a well-performing, well-delivering email marketing platform that segments your database and personalized offers where appropriate. If you send out to a larger size list, you might want to check out Ongage.com which helps companies maximize their email delivery by rotating the ESPs being used to send your email blasts, and keeps the deliverability at the highest possible. Just a couple of percentage points can make all the difference in the revenue from the blasts.
  5. Email Frequency – I recommend daily deal emails and weekly seasonal emails into the holiday season, so you have to plan and design numerous promotional emails to send out in succession. This is the time of year that you can get away with daily email blasts to your lists, so take advantage of it, but with a strategy.
  6. Don’t be shy – Email is the #1 revenue generator for ecommerce, so make sure not to under-do it. Make sure to increase email collection both on the website with pop-ups, sweepstakes entries, and try Facebook Lead Ads to increase email subscribers to your list (inquire with me if you would like an agency to run these campaigns for you).

Social Media Holiday Strategies:

  1. Holiday-themed Sweepstakes or Photo Contest – “Win the NEW iPhone Sweepstakes!” You can do an amazing Holiday Season Sweepstakes or Holiday Photo Contest to increase fans, email opt-ins, conversions, and viral sharing. Typical budget would range between $500-2500 for a contest, depending on how big and exciting you wanted to go with the sweepstakes. Sweepstakes should be promoted on your website, on your Facebook page with Boosted Posts, Sponsored tweets, and to your email databases. Not to mention, when the winners get their prize they can be asked to share a picture on the fan page holding their prize, which is promoted on Facebook and other social networks with ads to increase exposure. It’s great for PR and has great engagement associated with it. Press releases can also be done for the sweepstakes to further market it. You can also run Facebook and Twitter ads to promote it, and re-market website visitors to enter your sweepstakes. You can also add a “site link extension” in your Google paid search ads so it shows up in all of your search ads so people may click on the link and sign up.
  2. Holiday-themed Facebook Page Cover images – to be added in advance of all the main Holiday promotions. It’s good to keep cover images changing and fresh on your Facebook page, and Twitter as well.
  3. Holiday-themed Fan Page profile thumbnail – sure why not add a holiday-themed company logo on your Facebook and Twitter pages.
  4. Facebook Fan Ads – consider allocating budget to advertise for more targeted fans (i.e. Page likes) on Facebook before and throughout the holidays so you can market deals to more targeted people with “Boosted Posts”. Then using Facebook Offers and Facebook Boosted Posts to monetize your fans and track the ROI of your fan advertising. Make sure to track Facebook ad campaigns with dedicated coupon codes, Facebook’s tracking pixels, and dedicated toll free numbers for Facebook.
  5. Twitter Ads – Ads can be run on Twitter to boost clicks, followers, and leads. Don’t forget about Twitter Ads this holiday season. I also really like running ads to your customer databases on Twitter (custom audiences), which always has good ROI. Another winner on Twitter is to run retargeting ads to your previous website visitors. So make sure not to neglect Twitter, especially in retargeting your website traffic and your previous customer email lists, with deals and/or to enter your holiday sweepstakes to build your email list.
  6. Instagram – You MUST be on Instagram with a company page and posting pictures and links to it, with hashtags to gain followers. Ramp up your Instagram strategy now to build your followers for the holidays. Now, when you advertise through Facebook, your ads will run on Instagram automatically, which is a beautiful thing.
  7. Video – make sure to create and utilize videos in your holiday shopping strategies. Videos tend to have higher rates of engagement that static ads. Videos can be created and utilized on your social networks, in your ads, on Youtube, in Youtube ads, and other places as well. (If you need inexpensive video creation services let me know)
  8. Pinterest – Make sure you are pinning all your products from your site and blog to Pinterest in your company account. Create boards for your product categories to make it great. Sign-up for a Pinterest business account so you can run ads through Pinterest to targeted audiences for the holiday shopping season. If it’s going to work, it’s likely going to work during the holiday shopping season when your conversion rate is higher, so make sure to leverage it to the fullest.

Native Advertising / Programmatic Ads:

  1. Native Ads: these are ad campaigns that run as “recommended articles” on 3rd party web properties that typically are high traffic websites. You may have seen these blocks of 4-8 set of stories with an image and a content blurb that link to a landing page. There are a couple of ways to target these types of recommended articles, including targeting your previous website visitors known as “retargeting” ads, as well as targeting “custom audiences” which are databases such as a website’s customer database, or very targeted customers that have either show interest in that same type of product or services, or have in fact made a purchase previously with another similar website. You can run your “recommended articles” which are actually ad units that market an article and an image to these audiences, bringing the people that click on the ads to your website, or to a “landing page” that collects their contact information so they can be followed up with and sold your products or services. You can put a holiday shopping spin on your ad units and landing pages, to make them really timely and more effective. Native advertising is a very popular new form of online advertising, and represents the future of digital advertising because it essentially allows Advertisers and merchants to run ad campaigns to very targeting audiences, which allow what in the past were display ad campaigns that are much easier to generate a return on investment with this more modern and more effective way to advertise on 3rd party websites through display advertising campaigns, and drive a ton more traffic for advertisers. The other amazing aspect of Native advertising is that you can set up several different ad units and drive the traffic to a variety of landing pages, which allows for a higher degree of on the fly optimizations, which improves ad campaign performance over time. Check out Storygize.com for fully managed Native Advertising campaigns, and check out OutBrain and Taboola for self-serve Native Ad campaigns.
  2. Programmatic Ad Campaigns – The difference between Programmatic and traditional display advertising campaigns essentially is just how targeted the advertising inventory is with this new more precise form of targeting that’s used by programmatic ad networks. For instance, if you want to run ads to target women that have purchased from designer boutiques in the last 6 months, you can do that. If you want to target moms with kids in elementary school, you can do that. If you wanted to target plus sizes women that shop for clothes online, you can target just that audience. I think you get the picture. Essentially, you can leverage information on users from 3rd party “data providers,” or companies that know people’s buying behavior and other valuable data points you can utilize to target those people online with various types of ads and videos. You will pay a premium for the ability to target people based on this information, but it makes all of the difference in the world. Let’s say you want to advertise your new iPhone speaker through display advertising campaigns. You can select audiences of people that you know have recently purchased the new iPhone for instance. You can also run a variety of different types of ad units like videos and HTML5 ad units which are interactive ad units which increase the ability to get people’s contact info if they are interested so you can personally follow up and sell to them or market to them in a very targeted way. Another phenomenal aspect of programmatic, is that you can target web properties that have certain content or keywords present on the pages. For instance, you want to target web properties that are discussing hardwood flooring options in their content or blog post. You can target just these pages of content with your banner ads or video ads for a flooring company, and get them to visitor your website or your landing page to get a free estimate. You can see how paying a little bit extra for this type of data is worth the money and in fact worth it’s weight in gold. Now, you have to do a great job with your website landing page conversion rate to make it work as well as possible, but assuming you don’t do a completely horrible job, it has a very good chance of working and producing an ROI. What a great strategy to increase website traffic for the holidays, by using Native ads and Programmatic ad campaigns. (If you need an agency to help you run these campaigns, let me know. We use a phenomenal programmatic campaign platform to get the best ROI on your Native ads and programmatic ad campaigns.)

Read the full article here.