Tips and Tricks
Written by Jeremy Jensen
Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Approximately two thirds of working Americans find themselves on a computer during the day. Many of which spend their entire shift glued to a screen, only a mouse click away from accessing the endless distractions that can be found on the internet. With so much information coming at us daily, our focus is quickly becoming diminished in exchange for the stimuli of the latest YouTube sensation.
For some it can become a serious problem, leading to low productivity, bad performance reviews, and the additional stress of bringing work home. Luckily we’ve compiled a list of six applications proven to break bad habits and help you get your work done on time!
1. Freedom- Block the internet for a certain amount of time
Have you ever played the psychological game with yourself that only after X amount of work, you’ll reward yourself with X amount of entertainment? Easier said than done. Freedom has one simple use, and that’s to block your internet completely for a specified amount of time. You’d be surprised just how quickly a glance at Facebook, or reading that ‘crucial’ article can take hours out of your day.
If turning off the internet completely is not an option, take a look at Anti-Social. It’s built for those who still need the internet, but would like to block certain sites while the web browser is open.
Freedom cost: $10
2. StayFocusd- Limit the amount of time you spend on distracting websites
With opposite functionality to ‘Anti-Social’, Stayfocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that works by restricting the amount of time you can spend on certain sites, rather than blocking them entirely. Once you’re allotted time is spent, those websites will become blocked for the remainder of the day.
Many prefer this calculated approach as they still desire intermittent breaks in working, but do not like to go beyond a certain point. Want to give yourself 45 minutes to space out? This app is right for you.
StayFocusd cost: Free
3. TrackTime- Understand how your time gets spent while online
While we acknowledge we spend a lot of time on the computer, most of us have no idea how that’s broken down into individual application use. How much time did you waste on Twitter today? How often were you actually using your Word Processing application?
TrackTime allows you to monitor your activities daily by providing you with statistics and colorful timelines of where you spend your time, and how often you’re switching between applications
Tracktime cost: Free (only available on Mac)
4. RescueTime- A more in-depth look at where your time goes and how to take action
RescueTime will give you one of the most accurate picture’s on the market as to where your activity is performed on your computer. With detailed activity reports, weekly email summary, and daily goals built right into the interface you’re guaranteed results in becoming more efficient.
With premiere, you also get the benefits of:
- Customized Site Blocking
- Track Offline Activity
- Notifications- Notify yourself when spending too much time on something, or for being super productive.
RescueTime cost: $9/month or $72/year
5. Concentrate- Work and study more productively between tasks
Many of us are responsible for more than one type of task throughout the day; for instance, there’s times when I’m writing, budgeting, updating my web-page, or producing new content on Social Media. Needless to say these tasks can become intertwined unintentionally and break our focus.
Concentrate allows you to create custom activities that run a corresponding set of actions to only allow applications and websites to run that support productivity within that activity. In English, that means if I’m writing I can only access my word processor, and websites I haven’t placed on a block list while I’m working. You can set up multiple forms of activity to segment your work day and focus on each item individually.
Concentrate cost: $29
6. FocusWriter- Creating an optimal environment for your thoughts
Writing can require the greatest self-discipline of any profession, especially in the last decade as life and internet have become so intertwined. FocusWriter commandeers your desktop to provide a distraction-free writing environment so you can focus on what really matters, the words.
Some additional features, include:
- Daily writing goals (word count or writing time)
- Typewriter sounds
- Standard text-editing features
FocurWriter cost: Free, but with a suggested “tip”
Do you have any other apps or tips that you use to stay focused? Let us know in the comments section!
Image Source: http://betanews.com/2014/02/26/are-you-reading-this-when-you-should-be-working/internet-distraction/
Written by Kyler Patterson
Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
If you haven’t started using Pinterest to share your products and blog posts yet, then you should start doing so. Especially if your target market happens to include a fair percentage of females. Although it may sound cliche, I will still say it: Go where your customers are. And Pinterest is definitely home to a lot of active users. But how do you stand out in the crowd of pins? The answer is actually pretty easy.
If you’ve been following the HostGator blog and have implemented some of the suggested seo strategies, then you’ve likely already optimized content such as meta data and share buttons. If you’re using WordPress or another CMS, you may be able to find a plugin to add these if you haven’t already. For sites created without a Content Management System, you will need to manually add these tags onto your pages. For information on what is needed for Rich Pins and how to apply, please review the Rich Pin Documentation.
What Do Rich Pins Do?
Simple Answer: Make You Stand Out. Whether on the home page or within a board, there is a sea of pins. With Rich Pins, you will pop out in the crowd. Take a look at this picture of a Pinterest live feed:
You may have noticed that, unlike most of the other pins on the page, the HostGator pins display:
- The title in bold
- The associated Favicon
- The title of the source blog
These extra cosmetic enhancements make these pins stand out in the crowd, drawing the audience’s attention. If you have physical products on your page with prices, it will even show the price! This shows the viewer that the product is for sale and if they like what they see, they’re just a click away. But the enhancements don’t just stop on the boards. Your actual pin has new features too. Taking a closer look:
Just like on the board, you’ll see some of the same features: bold title, blog title, favicon, but also the Author’s name. For products, you’ll also see the price. However, there’s one additional feature that is not just helpful for SEO, but will show even more content to your readers, enticing them to click your site’s link! This is your meta description data! For most blogs/product pages, this is the first few sentences of your content. But for those who know how to optimize their meta description, this can be your sales pitch! If used properly, you should start driving targeted leads to your page straight from Pinterest.
How To Get Rich Pins?
First you need to make sure your page is optimized for this. The link for tips on this is posted earlier in this article. After you’re optimized, you can validate the pin using the Rich Pin Validator. If successful, it will allow you to Apply. The turnaround time on this can vary from a single day up to several weeks.
Hopefully this helps you stand out on Pinterest! Good luck!
Do you have other Pinterest tips? Please share them in the comments below.
Written by Taylor Hawes
Thursday, January 30th, 2014
The role of business is ever changing, and with it, the practice of crafting identity. Competitive companies must continually position themselves as a necessary part of customers’ lives in order to stay relevant and profitable. Educate your staff, re-imagine your practice, and build a better practice through the knowledge imparted by these seven highly acclaimed resources.
For many businesses, the concept of branding is difficult to grasp. Building recognition in the marketplace takes more than exposure and advertising, it takes a compelling story. That’s what 30-year advertising veteran Jim Signorelli preaches in this high-impact volume entitled StoryBranding: Creating Stand-Out Brands Through the Power of Story.
The book takes a look at the practice of branding as an extension of corporate identity. By asserting that modern branding practices should favor messages that resonate with customers over editorialized benefits, he challenges long-held preconceptions about what branding means and how to execute it successfully. The 6-step process guides businesses large and small through the process of finding their story and sharing it effectively with their target audience to build identity.
Designing Brand Identity
Branding and marketing are ever evolving practices, and brand managers that wish to stay abreast of changing trends need a reference as relevant as their work. Enter Alina Wheeler’s Designing Brand Identity, a powerful resource rebuffed by dozens of case studies highlighting the best practices of successful brands. Through a five-phase process that begins with research and leads through product implementation, launch, and continuing governance, the tome is a veritable users manual for the practice of branding in the modern marketplace.
Ancient Secrets of Lead Generation
A brand adorned with Facebook likes and clever aesthetic is nothing more than window decoration if it doesn’t generate sales. Fortunately, Daryl Urbanski’s cheekily titled volume examines what brands mean to customers and how to turn sentiment into revenue.
By looking at what brands and businesses mean to communities and groups of people, Urbanski inspires and entices with techniques designed to tap human psychology and satisfy customer needs. By combining message with method, Ancient Secrets works to build relationship with customers that bring profit and prosperity for both parties.
What Great Brands Do
Design can seem like hokum to the analytically minded. For those unconvinced of branding’s power, What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles That Separate the Best from the Rest is like a marketing foreign-language dictionary.
Denise Lee Yohn takes world-class brands like Nike, Zappos, and Apple and examines their method on a scientific basis that makes branding understandable and approachable. Designed to examine companies from the inside out, from culture to capital, and build a brand-as-a-business model that facilitates profitability and personnel satisfaction, her seven key principles highlight the commonalities that can turn have turned multiple businesses from bit-players into superstars.
Kellogg on Branding
When you’re building the backbone of your corporate identity, leaning on the experts is never a bad idea. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management takes an academic look at the practice of branding in this 352-page book that will educate your practice and hone your craft. It’s academic themes may feel inaccessible to some, but the information, presented scientifically or otherwise, is steeped in knowledge that only years of university research can provide.
Essential Elements of Brand Identity
A strong brand requires a strong visual identity and Essential Elements of Brand Identity tackles the aesthetic aspect of branding with aplomb. Kevin Budelmann, Yang Kim, and Curt Wozniak outline a platform for building brand identity predicated on a common framework of terminology and tools that both designers and customers can comprehend.
The work dives deep into the concept of visual identity by creating a structure of brand analysis. By deconstructing how aesthetic affects brand perception and linking the process of design to business concerns, it becomes immediately applicable and immediately understandable for both designers and management; a marriage that can lead to cooperation, impact, and profitability.
The Brand Gap
The strategic and creative forces behind your companies brand can sometimes become divorced, mired in a disconnect of goals and methods. Marty Neumeier’s The Brand Gap seeks to combine the two in a coherent fashion that aligns branding efforts for maximum effectiveness. Breaking the concept down into the “five essential disciplines of brand building”, the book looks to remove the disconnect between marketing arms and unite them in a way that strengthens image and breeds revenue.
Building a strong brand is an essential part of any successful business. Understand your goals, your allies, your customers, and your market through these seven volumes, and make 2014 the year that your brand reaches new heights.
Written by Anthony Sills
Monday, January 27th, 2014
Let’s face it.
We’re all busy.
And when it comes to digital marketing, there’s a lot to learn. But if you’re doing business online you should take a close look at your landing pages because you could be losing money. To put it bluntly, a landing page that sucks can be hazardous to your business.
According to MarketingSherpa, only 52% of the companies that use landing pages test them to improve conversion. They also found that the number one reason companies don’t use or test landing pages is because their marketing department doesn’t know how to set them up or they’re too overloaded.
Here’s the good news: You don’t have to feel confused, overwhelmed or frustrated anymore. And you can’t use “I don’t know how” as an excuse.
Because I’m going to show you how to avoid the mistakes most people make with landing pages. That way you can improve your landing page experience and your conversion rates.
But before I show you how to improve your landing pages, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page here.
A landing page, sometimes known as a “lead capture page”, is a webpage that has a form and exists only to capture a visitor’s information through that form. That’s it in a nutshell. A landing page is a marketing tool designed to prompt a certain action or result.
In fact, they’re arguably the single most vital component of your online marketing efforts. I don’t believe in silver bullets but if I had to suggest one marketing tactic you could use to improve your bottom line, I’d suggest using landing pages on your site. Since landing pages are intended to prompt a specific action or result, if you drive a stream of traffic to a targeted landing page, you can improve your chances of converting that traffic into leads.
However, the problem is most digital marketers aren’t reaping the benefits of effective landing pages.
You owe it to yourself to learn how to recognize critical mistakes most people make with landing pages and how to avoid them.
Do You Make These 13 Mistakes?
- Confusing the visitor— Landing pages should have one purpose. If your landing page has more than one objective, off-page links, presents too many choices, or doesn’t match the traffic source, you’re in trouble.
- Cluttered, unfocused design— Effective landing pages have only one objective—get the reader to take a specific action—and every word and element on the page should support that one action. Anything else on the page is a distraction.
- Weak copy— Just having a landing page isn’t enough to get you the conversion rate you want. Compelling copy is the “secret sauce” that persuades people to take action. You need a benefit-rich headline that makes the reader a promise and connects with them emotionally. Your compelling lead entices them to keep reading as you emphasize your value proposition. And through it all you should be speaking your customer’s language.
- Too much focus on you, your company, or your product or service—Nobody cares about you. They do care how you can help them. Your landing page copy should be all about helping the reader solve their problem.
- No clear call to action—Can your visitors easily identify the call to action? If your landing page doesn’t tell your visitor exactly what you want them to do next, they won’t do anything. That means you’re leaving money on the table.
- No credibility—You only have 2 to 3 seconds to capture your visitor’s attention and confirm that they’re in the right place. It doesn’t matter whether you’re asking people to give you their email address or part with their hard-earned cash, if they don’t trust you it’s going to be tough to seal the deal.
- Not using the recommended one-column format—There’s plenty of research showing that centered, single-column landing pages generally convert best. The 1-column format tends to look cleaner, have more white space, increase reading comprehension, and keep readers engaged with the message.
- Not matching the look, feel and tone of the original ad, email or website—Your headline and other landing page elements should relate to the ad copy that drove the click. In other words, the page should be relevant to your ad text and keyword.
- Ignoring fundamental principles of landing page design—There are best practices for creating an effective landing page. They include hiding your website navigation elements, keep your form “above the fold”, and underlining your links. A well-designed landing page must include a headline, benefits, a call to action, and an opt-in form.
- Ineffective use of images—This is where lots of marketers drop the ball. They take the easy way out and use clip art. They have uncaptioned images that have nothing to do with the objective of the page. Or their images aren’t clickable.
- Not optimizing the buttons—If the buttons on your landing page don’t look like buttons or they say “submit” or “send”, you could have a problem. A Hubspot researcher studied more than 40,000 landing pages and discovered that landing pages with submit buttons labeled “submit” had lower conversion rates than those with more engaging button text.
- No reason for visitor to act: ethical bribe or sense of urgency—If your visitor is on the fence and your landing page doesn’t give them a reason to act…they usually won’t. Are you giving them a reason to take action?
- Not testing—There’s always room for improvement and absolutely no way to know what to improve unless you test. Split-testing, or “A/B testing”, is an easy way to compare the results of tweaks to your landing page like a new call to action or a different headline.
Even if you’re not among the 10 percent of the U.S. population that has a fear of the number 13, the effect those 13 mistakes can have on your conversion rates is frightening.
What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
When it comes to marketing, ignorance is not bliss.
Far from it.
If you don’t use or test landing pages because you don’t know how you’re cheating your customer and your business. Your customer deserves the best landing page experience you can deliver. And if you can improve on the 5-15% average conversion rate for landing pages, you’ll have an advantage over your competition.
AWeber recently surveyed small business owners and marketers and discovered that while 94% said online marketing was very important to the growth of their business, 29% said they were a bit overwhelmed by online marketing.
If online marketing is important to your business—and I’m guessing it is—I want to let you in on a little secret.
There’s never a point where you know it all. There’s never going to be a day you wake up and understand everything about marketing. You may never cross everything off your “To Do” list. But you still have a business to run so you just have to do it.
Get Rid of Your Landing Page Problems Once and For All
Now that you’re aware of the disastrous mistakes most people make with landing pages let’s talk about how to avoid them.
The list of landing page mistakes offered a few clues on how to improve your landing page. Here are a few more.
- Grab your visitor’s attention as soon as they land on the page and keep them focused on your message and the offer you’re making. Get rid of navigation bars, visual clutter, and anything else distracting. Your goal is to lead the reader from having a problem to seeing your offer as the solution. Write tight copy that’s clear and persuasive and write in the second person.
- You want to make visitors feel comfortable and confident about doing business with you. You can do this with social proof, testimonials, a strong guarantee, a BBB logo, state licenses, or other means. You also accomplish this by making claims you can prove and backing up what you say. Offer an incentive for visitors taking action. It could be a free report, webinar, audio seminar, tip sheet, or eBook.
- Use visual elements to draw your visitor’s attention toward your call to action. Check out other businesses’ landing pages for ideas. Conduct regular tests on your landing pages to improve conversion. There are easy-to-use tools and some of them are even free.
In the end, great landing pages involve a bit of art and science
Can you share any examples of good landing pages you’ve seen recently? Let us know about it in the comments.
About the Author
Anthony Sills’ work can be found at American Express OPEN Forum, Copyblogger, Infusionsoft’s Big Ideas blog, and elsewhere. He writes about HR & employment, marketing, and business. You can always reach Anthony via social media, email, or by leaving a comment below…
image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net