business website design

Make Your Business Website Amazing!

10 Best Things You Can Do on Your Business Website

1- Create your website for your target audience

It’s not personal its business. Sometimes I’ll have clients approach me for a website, insisting it reflects who they are as a person by asking me to use graphics or other things that have special meaning for them but have nothing to do with their service.

Your business website is for what you’re selling and who’s buying. Your content and design needs to be created with those two things in mind.

I went through this with my own website WebLab. I used to have funky graphics, weird animations, things I thought reflected me as an artist. However, the majority of my clients were corporate businesses and were turned off by the design. Because of this I lost potential clients, now that my site is geared to them, I’ve received more work from bigger companies

2 – Provide good content

Think to yourself “would I bother to read this?” Content should be simple, relevant, concise and informative but not dry. Add some personality to your writing, this will make your site a pleasure to read.

Include articles, tips, free information, tutorials or anything that will get people interested your site.

Tip: People don’t read websites, they scan them so try to edit your content to rid any excess words. Separate content into short paragraphs with simple, descriptive titles.

3 – Make your site lean and strong

Get rid of the clutter! There’s no need to add dozens of links that go into every avenue of your business, especially not for things that aren’t related to your business. Think about the number of pages in your site, does it add value to your site or just make it cluttered? Focus on one aspect of your business and go from there.

Any top chef will tell you they only eat at restaurants with a tight menu.

TIP: Also make sure you have quality web hosting so that your site is fast. people will NOT wait around for your site to load.

Be choosy about what services you advertise on your site. I simplified my site to where all I have is my web design services even though I also do illustration, flash and some print work. I did that because the majority of my work comes from web design; it shows I specialize in one thing and keeps my site focused.

Also decide if you really need that Twitter feed or Facebook page blob on the site. Again, these make the site look too busy and may not be helpful.

4- Invest in professional photography

Great photos = “oh I want one of those!” This is one thing you should never ever cut corners on to save money! Your beautiful product shouldn’t be photographed with your digital camera in bad lighting sitting on your bed, couch, kitchen table or floor, it cheapens your product. Pictures of yourself shouldn’t be one you pulled from a family gathering or party you attended, it looks unprofessional.

Show you are proud of your business by hiring a Photographer to take professional photos.

Tip: It’s difficult for people to see what your product looks like online as they can’t pick it up and hold it. Keep the image simple by removing any distracting background elements. Provide photos with different angles and close-ups to see details.

5- Invest in quality design and customization

Great website = “I’m sending this to all my friends”. How your site looks will reflect upon your business, so it matters that it looks good and is current. Your site should match your current branding, if you haven’t created branding yet then ensure your website, logo and other marketing material are designed to compliment each other.

All aspects of your website can be customized to suite your business needs. Sit down with your Designer and/or Programmer beforehand and explain what you want the website to do for you; they should be able to build a site tailored to fit your business.

6- Keep it fresh

Hmm latest news is from 2 years ago…are they still in business? Update content frequently, at least every few months so your content doesn’t go stale. Add news, post to your blog, swap out photos, update featured items. Any change you make will keep your site fresh and active and give people a reason to revisit your website.

Coming soon pages are a bad idea, if you have content that isn’t ready to go online either don’t mention it at all or give a specific date it will be online and make sure it’s actually there on that day. Think of how many sites you have visited where you wanted to see a page however it said “coming soon” so you check back later and it’s still there, did you give up? Most people will, they can’t be bothered with your site if they’re disappointed every time they pay it a visit.

Tip: Revisit the overall design of your website about every 2 years. Survey your clients to ask what they like and don’t like about your site to help you freshen up your layout and design.

7- Make your site friendly

The navigation should be obvious and easy to use, no matter where a visitor enters your site they should be able to find their way around with ease. Text should be big enough to read, galleries should provide close up views, your contact information should be easily accessible. Music, videos and other noisy elements should have a clearly labeled stop button.

Don’t force users to fill out tedious forms or register to access certain parts of the site if it isn’t necessary.

Tip: During the design phase do user testing, let unbiased people (preferably in your target audience) evaluate your site so you can make necessary changes before your it goes online.

8- Stand out from the crowd

Think purple cow. Look at your competitor’s websites and see what they do, is there something they all do the same? Do you think they do that because it works or just because it’s safe? How can you stand out from the rest?

Let’s say you own a spa, you’ll find that most sites have images of women in white bathrobes and tea light candles. Avoid those tired clichés and try for something completely different. You could try adding humor, how many spa sites do you see that make you giggle? Isn’t laughter the best stress reliever of all? Be creative and brainstorm ways to make your site unique.

9- Be picky with affiliates and advertisements

Who’s product are you selling, yours or theirs? Avoid the temptation to plaster your website with advertising, it can damage your credibility. If you do have advertising make sure it’s relevant to your websites content. For example; if you’re a real estate agent your affiliate ads could be for mortgage brokers, moving companies and other complimentary businesses. Or if you’re selling products on Amazon, don’t use affiliate links and ads from other sites.

When it comes to your business website, any affiliate ads you display will give the impression to your clients that these are companies you recommend. Make sure you know who your affiliates are and how they do business otherwise it could hurt your reputation.

Also affiliate ads and other advertising can drastically cut down on the amount of leads your site generates if it is a lead generation website.

10- Be sincere

Marketing 101- you’re not selling a product or service, you’re providing a solution to a problem.
Don’t use high pressure sales tactics to try and encourage people to buy, it’s off putting and looks insincere. Be honest about your business, speak plainly and remove any marketing fluff from your site that isn’t meaningful.

Put your heart into it and allow your website to show you’re confident with your product and service.

social media marketing tools

Best [10] Social Media Management Tools

The Best Social Media Management Tools for 2019

Social media management tools are basically those platforms that assist the users in maintaining and controlling all of their social media accounts from a centralized platform.

By using these tools, the social media account holder can take a full grip over all of their accounts for the different social media platforms.

They can simultaneously schedule the post, reply to a comment and keep in touch with their users and fans all the time.

So, in short, these tools make the managing of social media accounts simple and easy. Here is the list of those top ten professional social media management tools that will provide you a full control on all of your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media platforms accounts.

1. HootSuite

HootSuite is a perfect and professional social media management platform that can be deployed for managing various social media accounts of almost all social media channels.

HootSuite is a brand new way of enhancing the engagement with the visitors and fans by replying their queries in real time.

It assists its users in scheduling their posts and messages for all social networks and get real ROI on their promotions and marketing.

2. Buffer

Buffer is a simple yet powerful social media management platform that is widely regarded as the best choice for the agencies and brands for the promotion of their products and services.

Managing multiple accounts of same social media platform or different account of various social media platforms is really time-consuming. If you want to get real output on your efforts by saving time them Buffer will let you share in the best way on all of your social media accounts.

3. SocialOomph

SocialOomph is a platform to boost the productivity from your social media campaigns. In a dynamic business environment where everything is changing at lightning speed, it is really useless to go for the manual time-consuming posting and sharing process.

Just utilize the SocialOomph for managing your Facebook, Twitter and social media files, pages, groups, posts and much more simultaneously.

By using SocialOomph, you will be not required to manually deal with each account and platform.

4. Sprout Social

Just like its name, Sprout Social is a highly customized and personalized social media management platform for high level of business enterprises that are required to make a powerful presence in the world of social media in order to make strong engagement with the visitors and customers.

Sprout Social is a platform for scheduling posts for various accounts and gets them published on all accounts simultaneously. This is great for any kind of website where engagement and a strong social brand are important.

Moreover, Sprout Social has report generating system as well so you can get live statistics on the actual campaigns and see your advertisement’s performance in real time.

5. Agorapulse

Agorapulse is a social management provider for all type of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

By using the Agorapulse, it becomes simple and possible to manage all social media functions from a centralized platform of the Agorapulse.

Agorapulse lets the users to scheduled and publish their post on different social media accounts simultaneously and in that’s way save their precious time that will otherwise waste in case of manual account managing.

6. Sendible

Most of the social media management tools are expert in dealing with scheduling and publishing only.

However, Sendible is little different from these as it provides a systematic approach towards analytics and monitoring system.

Managing various social media accounts is not a big deal but getting a real return over the efforts is a serious issue that needs the real consideration.

By using the Sendible, users can monitor their marketing tactics through its analytic tools.

7. Oktopost

Oktopost is a social media management application that in addition to managing various social media accounts lets the users monitor their digital media marketing as well.

By using the Oktopost, the users can schedule their posts, content, and social messages and increase their level of engagement with their visitors and customers.

Publishing, measuring the performance, sharing content, making relation with visitors and collaboration with users are the basic features of the Oktopost.

8. Postfity

Postfity is an application for schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

By using the Postfity, the users can easily automate all of their posts for the most popular social media platforms.

Managing social media platforms, increasing the level of engagement with visitors and scheduling messages for all social media accounts is easy and simple.

Postfity deals in managing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. So, here is an apology for Instagram users.

9. Everypost

Everypost is a social media management application that has made the publishing simple and easy.

Most of its features and specifications are for business enterprises that let the business owners  get a real return on their investment.

Everypost is a professional platform of getting the real effectiveness on their marketing plans.

Scheduling & publishing, collaboration, post customization, social analytics and content curation are the part of Everypost for a complete social media workflow.

10. SocialFlow

SocialFlow is a social media optimization platform for managing multiple accounts of multiple social media platforms from a centralized platform of the SocialFlow.

SocialFlow is not the solution of social media management only, in fact, it is a dedicated platform for getting the best digital marketing solution as well.

SocialFlow is the leading solution for the top rated brands and publishers.

Providing the solutions for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts is the especially of all social media management platforms but what make the SocialFlow the best one is its services for Pinterest.

Web Site Hosting Reviews – Plans, Domains and Hosting

Best Web Site Hosting and Domain registration reviews

Want to build a web site? Get the best web hosting for it.

Make a comparison of Web Hosting and Domain registrars and take advantage of the many discounts that can be found all over the internet for several of the different hosting companies.

Many people get confused with many details hosting companies offer. In this review I will help you get things much more simpler if you want to build a website or a blog.

Check on the latest promotions and discounts in many web hosting providers.

When choosing a new website hosting plan, there are at least a few considerations that you must look for in order to get a good, reliable hosting account.

In this article you can find some of the best options in buying a domain name, a hosting plan and even website design.

Also I will show you the “pros” and “cons” for paying a dedicate hosting just for your site, using a free one, shared hosting, VPS hosting even reseller hosting plans.

Free is free but is it better?

If you made a search on Google about hosting plans for websites, no doubt that you encounter thousands of pages about this matter.

Also many providers offers a lot of tools for the ones that don’t know much about website building, but want access to easy tools that help in designing a website with a professional look.

Many free website hosts offers a lot, the downside on some of them is the number of web pages you can build, advertising on your pages and most of the times you are limited with the amount of uploads for example.

Also the size usually is not that big to host all your content.

Still, if you just want a simple web page for personal usage, then free is the way to go, but if you want to get your own domain, those same free web hosts also offers premium access where you unlock many options.

Have in mind this article, is mainly for people that are relative new on the web hosting industry. The “pros” already know very well where to get their new domains, the best hosting solutions and so on.

Domain registration and hosting solutions

HostGator is a hosting company that has won many awards over the years. They have also been in the hosting industry for along time now.

They have thousands, if not, millions of sites using their services and have been considered number 1, when you need a stable hosting server.

They offer shared hosting, which is very reliable, dedicated hosting if you want to have more control of your web site and hosting, a reseller service and they use cPanel, one of the most trusted control panels in hosting industry.

Installing new scripts, plugin’s and so on, is very easy using cPanel.

They are currently going on a 20% off discount in all of their services. Prices from a shared plan go from $3.96 per month on their 3 years plan on the basic hosting, to $10.36 per month on their premium hosting plan if you choose the 3 year plan.

In their dedicated hosting plans, they offer Linux and Windows servers plans, like many other hosting companies.


They have 4 dedicated hosting plans with prices ranging from $174 to $274, on any plan they are taking $100 off for the first month on their Windows servers. If you prefer Linux, prices range from $139 to $299.

The servers come with Intel Xeon quad core, 10TB bandwidth with the only differences between plans is the amount of RAM, Hardrives amount and space and CPU types according the plans and OS you choose.

If you are looking for a reliable web hosting, with great support, many different options, HostGator will deliver.

And if you do not like GoDaddy, then try BlueHost. They also have some great coupons, and I have them listed here

Shared Hosting or Dedicated Hosting – What to choose?

Many hosting companies offers both services. If you plan doing a small web site then probably a shared hosting solution is enough.

Still, if you plan to make a big site, and are looking for more features a dedicated hosting is the best, but also, more expensive.

A shared hosting, or virtual hosting, shares the space on the server with other websites, there are a few problems with this. First all those web sites will have the same IP address, so you might end up with a bad neighboring.

Imagine that on that shared server, you have spammy sites, or sites that do not have a good reputation on the web and search engines, you might get penalized just because you are using the same IP address of those sites.

Also, if there is a lot of demand in traffic, the server tends to slow down, and you can also be limited by the size of the bandwidth you are allowed.

On a dedicated hosting, you own your own server, this means, only your site will have a unique IP address.

This kind of hosting solutions are also the most expensive, usually used by business owners that want to have a more secure site, like for example, use a SSL encryption where sales and credit cards might be at risk.

This allows also for easy FTP access, better bandwidth, and probably less server crashes since only you can upload your CGI scripts.

If it crashes then you only have you to blame. You have much more control over your web site and your hosting in these kind of plans.

Always check the terms of service of any hosting provider you choose, see the kind of sites they allow.

Also, you can start with a cheap shared hosting, and move to a premium solution if your site demands, increase in traffic, storage of files, etc.

GoDaddy – Domains and hosting services

GoDaddy is probably the number 1 “all in one” solutions company in the world. They offer everything you might imagine in terms of web hosting services and many different kind of plans.

One of the main reasons they are know is by the many discounts they offer.

Every month GoDaddy releases new discounts for domain registrations, hosting solutions, discounts over a certain amount spent, etc.

Here you will find so many features that it can even be a bit overwhelming.

They have dedicated hosting solutions and virtual solutions, but with a tweak, in many of their plans, they put a limit on most of the shared solutions to avoid many of the problems that I referred before.

At GoDaddy, you can register a new domain name, set your hosting plan, and take advantage of the many products they have in their store.

With all this, you can even get a great discount on your orders, be that for new customers or renewal customers.

If you are new to the web hosting, then probably you might want to take advantage of the domain names registration.

GoDaddy offers the most lower prices and you can choose many variations, (.com, .net, .org. biz, etc). If you are ready to upgrade or get new tools for your hosting they have a great support team and many solutions to choose from.

GoDaddy reseller plans, are also pretty good. Been a reseller, they offer you a full web site ready to sell their products under your brand.

Many new domain hosting companies have been showing up in the market, but many, are resellers from GoDaddy.

Don’t think this is bad, in fact they have a very stable service and also they have many different plans and offers for you.

If you already have a web site, or you want to expand your online business, this might be for you, in a way, there is a lot of competition but you are free to market your business as you like.

Also by choosing their products at the set prices, it can be a very profitable solution.

HideMyAss Review (Is It REALLY Worth It?)

HideMyAss Review

Have you ever been connected to an unsecure Internet connection and wondered if anyone was spying on what you were doing?

Personally this thought had never even crossed my mind until I found out someone keylogged some of my passwords while browsing the web in my local coffee shop. (for real!)

Experiences like this are rampant and this is led me to analyzing Hide My Ass private network. Before getting into my review you will find the latest promotional offer through the link below. And how about we get down to it already!?

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Just use the link below: If you’re shopping for HMA anyway, then why not use a discount?

It only takes a few seconds to find and apply which becomes especially important with recurring subscription plans.

So don’t miss out on the savings and always use due diligence.

Jump through the link below for current special offers…

–>> HideMyAss VPN & TORGuard Promo Code & Special Discount Offers HERE!!

Now Let’s Continue With The Review…

With more and more people using the Internet these days, there are just so many opportunities for thieves and hackers to take advantage of unsuspecting users. My eyes really opened up to this fact when I experienced this first hand and had my bank account cracked by a hacker.

I lost about $1,700 and with absolutely no recourse. My bank investigated the situation but wound up not being able to help me out in the end.

After that I decided not to take any chances with my online information and always encrypt my Internet connection.

After some thorough research I discovered that being able to anonymously encrypt your IP address was a crucial step to safe browsing on connections with potential threats(e.g. public WiFi spots).

I tried a few services first before I stumbled upon the HideMyAss VPN and decided to test it out for a month.

This is definitely the most professional and quality IP masking service available. I was attracted to the site by how bold their company name is and they definitely back it up with some outstanding products.

They actually offer 7 different tools on their website, and of these 7 tools 6 of them our 100% free. You’ve got a web proxy, IP: port proxies, file/image upload, anonymous emails, link anonymizer, and anonymous search, all for free.

The tool that many people decide to pay for is the Hidemyass Pro VPN service. Basically this tool allows you to access a virtual private network and use the Internet different IP addresses all over the world. It tunnels and encrypts your actual IP address and not just your browser like most of the other services out there.

Enjoy this Hidemyass review and remember to always protect your private and valuable information when connected to a public wifi hotspot.

And if you don’t have access to a service that can help you protect yourself, you might just want to wait until you get home or you find a safe connection.

HideMyAss Pro VPN Review

Lets get down to business, there are many different uses for a service such as HideMyAss, and I was mainly using for security. I also used the VPN network for some of my web development work. The service allowed me to create profiles and comments that appear 100% natural to visitors and search engines.

One of the biggest things people use the service for is to access media on U.S. servers while outside of the U.S.. If you live in a location with limited availability to sites like or, than you can use HideMyAss to access the nearest server node and watch whatever you like.

Is the Hide My Ass Pro VPN worth the monthly cost?

Yes this service is most definitely worth the asking price. You can purchase a subscription for either 1 month, 6 months or 12 months and I would recommend at least going with 6 months. The prices break down to $11.52 per month for the 1 month, $8.44 per month for the 6 month, and $6.55 per month for the 12 month subscription.

Also be sure to bookmark our review and check back soon for an available HideMyAss Coupon or Discount. If one becomes available we will be sure post it up top!

Overall performance and functionality of HideMyAss

Over my lengthy test of HideMyAss the VPN performed extremely well. There was one hiccup along the way where I was disconnected from HideMyAss but I reconnected with no problem and got back in business. Your Internet connection isn’t quite as fast when connected to the VPN but it still gets the job done.

It really depends on the server you are connected to and how much bandwidth you are trying to push. HideMyAss recommends that you connect to the server closest to your geographic location so the information has to travel the shortest distance possible.

Its really crazy when you connect to a foreign server and do a quick Google search. You will see wildly different results come up in the language of the location.

The Added Layer of Security and Protection

Anonymously encrypting your Internet connection is definitely an added layer of security. With firewalls in place and other protection software, a hacker or network spy really has no way of attacking you.

They require your specific IP address in order to access your system and with the encrypted IP they can only see the HideMyAss server IP giving them nothing to work with. If you are serious about your security or forced to work on unsecure networks than HideMyAss is definitely the perfect tool.

Working with Internet based applications

During my test of HideMyAss Pro VPN I used a few Internet based applications to make sure there were no compatibility issues. First I used an application for submitting homework to my college through a server on the other side of my country(US) and didn’t have a single issue with it.

The great thing about this service is the VPN. With other service you are routing through a web proxy and will have trouble configuring with most applications but with HideMyAss you can do anything from P2P file sharing to online gaming.

Switching connections

If you need to switch IP addresses frequently than you will have no problems with the VPN. You can actually set HideMyAss to change the connection on a scheduled time interval.

For example you could have the VPN changing connections every 3 minutes and not have to stop and waste time changing the connection manually.

Speed and Bandwidth Limitations

You should be pleasantly surprised with the speed of HideMyAss. Taking into the account the extra distance the information must travel the network is incredibly fast.

When I first found HideMyAss I was worried about limitations on bandwidth but I quickly found out that you can push the service as much as you’d like. The network is powered by a GigaBit server which ensures great connectivity.

The bandwidth will allow you to download files and do just about anything that requires a nice chunk of bandwidth.

Web Proxy vs VPN

                                                             Web Proxy           VPN

Protects your anonymity                                          Yes                Yes

Access blocked websites                                          Yes                Yes

Encrypts all traffic                                                        No                Yes

Works on any application                                         No                Yes

No advertisements                                                      No                Yes

Works with file sharing                                               No                Yes

Difficult to block                                                           No               Yes

What is Direct Marketing

What is Direct Marketing?

Direct Marketing Explained

Direct marketing is unique to other forms of marketing in that it communicates directly to consumers through a one-to-one relationship and seeks to create an immediate action on the part of the audience.

By marketing directly to the end user, direct marketing doesn’t typically utilize distributors and wholesalers as traditional or general marketing might.

Rather, direct marketing utilizes one or more media in seeking a response and/or transaction.

Direct marketing, also known as database marketing or direct response, uses direct mail, fax, telephone, website, e-mail and even face-to-face sales in order to persuade customers to order.

Direct marketing has been steadily increasing in popularity since the 1970s. While instances of direct marketing go back as far as the late 1700s, its use among businesses has increased exponentially since the advent of the database.

The database – or target audience list – is what makes direct marketing unique. No other form of marketing relies as heavily on the database for churning business leads or mailing lists. Whether it is for creating customized call lists, improving catalog response rates, sending profitable e-mail blasts or large direct mailings, the database is key.

In addition, another distinctive aspect of direct marketing is its intricate blend of disciplines. By combining information technology, copywriting, design, analytics and sales, direct marketing is truly a hybrid.

Direct marketers, by nature, are well-balanced individuals who appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of each discipline represented on the project team.

Direct marketers seek a “give-and-take” from each individual contribution in order to reach the optimum mix of creative, database and sales offer. It’s the combination that makes it a success.

What are the top two components of a Direct Marketing campaign?

For starters, you need to identify the main product (or service) for marketing. While this may seem basic, it is remarkable how often this crucial first step is overlooked. Some products respond better to direct marketing than others.

A general rule of the thumb to follow is this: The easier the product is to find in a store, the harder it will be to sell through direct marketing. For example, staple items – such as sugar, milk, bread and eggs, or easily available items like pens, paper, – are not direct marketing items. Items that cannot be purchased through a store, or are specialty in nature, however, typically do respond well to direct marketing efforts.

Secondly, have a plan. Always determine and write out S.M.A.R.T. marketing objectives. First, ensure that the objective is Specific in nature and Measurable. In other words, quantify the goal. For example, you might set an objective to “increase unit sales of X by 4,000” or “increase net sales by $450,000.”

Next, be sure the objective is Attainable. Those that are set too high or too far out of reach quickly fizzle out. Your objective should stretch you slightly so it feels within reach but still require a strong commitment for success.

Next, ask yourself if your objective is Realistic. In other words, is it achievable? The skills and resources necessary for reaching the objective should be readily available. If they are not, then the objective is unrealistic and must be modified or dismissed in lieu of another, more attainable objective.

Lastly, ensure your objective is Time-specific with a clear timeframe and deadline for completion.

Without this, the commitment from team members is often too vague. Procrastination almost always sets in and a lack of urgency only further contributes to the doomed project. The irony of the time-specific aspect of the objective is that it too must be specific, attainable and realistic.

What are the three most critical elements of a Direct Marketing plan?

If you think of the direct marketing plan as a pie chart, you’ll find three critical elements for success. The first of the two largest areas is database, commonly referred to as “list” (the audience you’re targeting).

On the pie chart, database represents 40%. This means that database, or list, is a major factor in determining the likelihood of success. To whom are you marketing? Who is most likely to buy the product?

These types of questions, as well as questions concerning customer demographics (sex, location, age, race, buying habits), are key components in direct marketing.

The second piece of the pie chart is the offer or “hook” that motivates consumers to purchase. Like the database, the offer equals 40% of the equation and is critical to the success of the plan.

Direct marketing plans have free offers, reduced offers, discount offers or any number of combinations thereof. The offer is critically essential and can have a tremendous effect on response rates. Companies like often test their offers on their website first to see which pulls the highest response rates before creating bigger campaigns.

The third and smallest area of the pie chart is creative. Creative entails everything from the concept, design, paper and photography, to layout, packaging, etc.

While creative only represents 20% of the equation, it is imperative that it receives 100% of its due attention. Solid creative acts as the glue that binds database and offer together. This tri-fecta combination is the difference which often makes a direct marketing campaign lethal to the competition.

Once database and offer have been established, creative goes to work generating and honing ideas that will capture the minds and hearts of the target audience.

What is common Direct Marketing formats?

Direct mail: Often referred to as snail mail, direct mail is still the primary form of business advertising and communication. Direct mail is excellent for generating sales leads as well as selling products directly to consumers and businesses alike.

E-mail: While still relatively new, e-mail is proving to be a successful means of communication with existing customers. Its use as a prospecting tool, however, is increasingly criticized.

Many states have anti-spamming laws (or anti-e-mail prospecting laws) on the books. The US Congress has passed legislation specifically outlining the rights of consumers who do not wish to receive such promotions. For this reason, many companies are steering clear of this potential minefield and have limited e-mail marketing to existing customers only.

Telephone: Also heavily legislated, telephone sales or telemarketing ranks near the top of customer frustrations. Viewed as a violation of privacy by many consumers, state laws now assign extraordinary fines to companies that fail to consult the state do-not-call list before prospecting.

Consumer activism and backlash have slowed investment in this multi-billion dollar industry. Yet things like vanity telephone numbers and free peer to peer calling apps and software have pushed this industry into more of the technical side of things. As technology finds more ways to stay connected through cheaper and less evasive voice options, we could see this part of the industry grow again.

Fax: Like the telephone, use of the fax as a business prospecting tool has been heavily legislated with many of the same restrictions and is most definitely a dying part of the equation. While companies still use this form of marketing, the advent of electronic communication and commerce has seen the importance of the fax machine steadily decline.

Catalogs: Paper catalogs have experienced a re-birth of sorts since the bust. Marketing managers across the country have opted for a more brick-and-mortar approach after e-mail response rates failed to materialize as they had hoped.

Alternative Media: This consists of card decks, package inserts, bind-in cards, blow-in cards, specialty advertising, etc. This area of direct marketing is still heavily utilized and continues to focus on providing qualified leads as well as generating sales.

Why are companies switching to Direct Marketing?

To begin with, companies are seeking a bigger ROI on their marketing dollars. Over the past several years, marketing budgets and personnel have dwindled as a consequence of two things: the bust and Wall Street’s stricter corporate governance laws, which require fuller financial disclosure.

The pressure from both corporate management and Wall Street analysts now require top performance from all company executives…marketing included.

Secondly, there has been a shift away from mass-marketing towards targeted, smaller campaigns. One of the most efficient ways of improving marketing ROI is redirecting the focus to smaller, more highly-targeted direct marketing.

Direct marketing thrives upon tracking and analysis of campaigns, ads, etc. It is this tracking, analysis, and proof of return (or lack there of) that companies and analysts find extremely attractive. With newer legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley, the importance of tracking and analysis will only grow…providing plenty of fuel for those seeking to take a direct marketing approach.

Increasing Your Twitter Followers

The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Your Twitter Followers

A long time ago, when my Twitter followers were at zero…

The other day, one of my offline friends joined Twitter for the first time. Seeing the big fat gaping zero underneath her followers tab immediately brought back some uncomfortable memories of my first days on the social network. It seemed that every follower gained was like a small step up an never-ending ladder, and every follower lost was a crushing defeat.

Now that I’ve been on Twitter for well over a year, I’ve learned that it isn’t the unsolvable enigma many beginners believe it to be. On the contrary – it is actually the social network that has brought me the most friends and contacts within my niche, many of whom I’ve met offline and established real-life friendships with as well.

Now, I’m no big shot Twitter guru. Though I’ve established my core network of friends and have seen a rapid increase in the popularity of my account over the past few months, I still have a long way to go before I reach a number of followers that would stir feelings of envy in your average Twitter user.

However, I do feel that I have mastered the necessary techniques to grow my Twitter account in the most natural and value-providing way possible. These are the tips and tricks that I would like to share with you.

In this article you will encounter three main topics: how to begin using Twitter, Twitter tips and tricks, and finally, some big Twitter no-nos that will get you unfollowed faster than you can say hashtag.

Anyone can be successful on Twitter. All you need is patience and persistence!

Why is it difficult to increase your followers on Twitter?

The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. – Moliere

The more followers you have, the more you will attract. This rule applies to every social network, but no more than on Twitter, most likely because everyone’s followers and followees are so conspicuously displayed on their profile pages.

The problem is that gaining new followers, especially at the beginning of your Twitter career, is difficult. Since most users want to have more followers than followees, they tend to be very selective about who they follow. Not only, but they are very quick to dump anyone who doesn’t provide value to their Twitter feed.

So, the real question at this point is: who do people on Twitter tend to follow? The answer is simple.

  • Big names and celebrities. Pretty self-explanatory.
  • Users with far more followers than followees. A person with more followers is more likely to provide valuable content and have a significant amount of clout within his or her niche. He/she is also more likely to be an active and sociable user.
  • When you look at a user’s profile, Twitter will automatically display whether that user is being followed by people you know. Generally speaking, one is more likely to follow a user who is a “friend of a friend” (or many friends) than a complete stranger.
  • Finally, people are more inclined to follow people in their specific niche who provide value to their Twitter feed.

So, where does that leave the Twitter newbie…

…who has no followers, no influence and no experience?

joining twitterAs with any social network, the first thing you should do is follow any real-life friends who currently use Twitter and ask them to add you back. Doing so will give you a small, yet essential, number of followers to start with. It is extremely difficult to convince a stranger to become your very first follower.

Second, it is essential that you select a specific niche to tweet about. This applies regardless of whether you have a blog/business or not, as people would rather follow someone who consistently tweets about one topic than a wide variety of unrelated topics. There are of course exceptions to this rule such as celebrities and comedians, but in most cases, Twitter users will have 95% of their tweets revolve around a niche.

Third, begin following people within your niche who follow lots of people but have few followers themselves, or an equal number of followers and followees. The former group is happy to follow anyone, whereas the latter lives by the “if you follow me, I’ll follow you back” mantra. Either of these groups will be far more likely to follow you than a more influential user at the beginning. Make sure these people are in your niche as it will save you the trouble of going in and unfollowing them later if you find that they tweet about things that do not interest you.

Finally, and most importantly, the new Twitter user must play the last card on the above-mentioned list:

To consistently provide valuable content written by others (and occasionally yourself) related to your niche.

The build up of followers will seem agonizingly slow at the beginning, yes, but people will gradually come to recognize you as a reference for your niche. You will want to balance the content you share in the following manner:

  1. 60% content written by other people in the form of retweets and shares. I will provide a more in-depth explanation behind the art of retweeting and sharing below.
  2. 10% your own content. Many people will suggest that you never share your own content, which I find absurd as most of us are on Twitter to market ourselves. The important thing is to share your work in moderation, as if it were the work of someone else that you’d come across by chance.
  3. 30% conversation and interaction. Twitter isn’t called a social network for nothing. If you want to make friends and contacts, you need to interact with them. Be yourself. Be funny. Be positive. Let the best of yourself shine through. Just don’t treat Twitter as if it were a chat room. You can use private messages for that.

The Art of Sharing on Twitter

Retweeting, sharing, Twitter handles, hashtags and favorites

twitter hashtags

As I mentioned above, one of the first steps you should take as Twitter newbie is to begin following other people in your niche who either:

1) have a higher ratio of followees to followers (people who mass follow without caring about being followed back)

2) people who have an equal ratio of followees to followers (“follow me, and I’ll follow you back”)

But once you have a small group of followers, what do you do with them? This is where sharing comes into play.

There are two principle ways of sharing on Twitter:

The first is the simple retweet (RT) whereby you share the work of others by clicking the retweet button under their tweet. People appreciate retweets as they allow an original tweet to reach an exponentially larger audience.

The second is to share by creating a tweet of your own that includes the title of the article, a short comment by you stating why you liked it, a link to the article, any relevant hashtags, and if applicable, the Twitter handle of the author, all within Twitter’s 140 character limit. You would generally use this method when you come across an article on the Internet that you feel would be valuable to your following. and has all of the proper web optimisation aspects.

If you don’t know the author’s Twitter handle, be sure to search for it on his/her website so that you are simultaneously giving credit to the author, and letting him/her know that you shared the piece. Likewise, make an effort to include hashtags as they allow other Twitter users to find your tweet in the search box. Below you can see an example of what I mean:

Great read by @TWITTERHANDLE! “The best ways to find followers on Twitter” #twitter

Though this may be a personal preference, I am more inclined to share than retweet as I enjoy adding my own two cents to a tweet, however short. Excessive retweeting, especially in succession, can come across as both lazy and spammy.

Another way of showing appreciation for a person’s work is with the like button. In terms of actual sharing, it has little use but functions more as a virtual pat on the back much like the ‘like’ button on Facebook. I often use the favorite button for photos and funny or interesting tweets without links to external content.

Ten Twitter Tips and Tricks

A few more ideas to power up your Twitter account

Up to now, we’ve gone over the basic rules for growing your Twitter account. In this section, I’d like to touch upon some tips and tricks I’ve found useful in increasing my followers in a natural manner. None of these tips will garner you 1000 fans overnight, but they will certainly help you add relevant and targeted people to your circle of acquaintances, which is what every serious Twitter user wants.


Remember, it isn’t the number of followers you have that counts, it is the quality of those followers.

As you might have guessed by now, to have power in the Twitter community is to have more followers than followees. Avoid mass following or following people who do not interest you. Don’t feel that you have to follow someone just because they follow you. Yes, you will have to follow people to gain momentum at the beginning, but make sure they are relevant to your niche.

If a person who’s tweets really interests you isn’t following you back, even after a long period of time, don’t take offense. As I mentioned at the beginning, Twitter users (especially important or experienced ones) are infamously picky about who they follow. He/she may be observing you and your behavior on Twitter. Perhaps he/she hasn’t noticed you yet.

Send that person a few friendly tweets and see how they react. If you get a friendly response, you really have no reason to click the unfollow button, even if they don’t follow you back after that.

Make good use of the #FF (follow Friday) hashtag. Most people draw up a list of their favorite users (usually the same people) every week and tweet it to the world, but I find this comes across as cliquey, monotonous and counter-productive. Instead, pick out one or two people every week to place in the spotlight. Say why people should follow them. Not only will the selected user appreciate this and usually follow you back, but your other followers will find value in getting to know someone new in your niche. I usually write something along these lines:

This week’s #FF goes to @TWITTERUSER because….

Post at least once a day to demonstrate that you are an active user. People will often use programs such as Tweepi or ManageFlitter to see which of their followers are the most inactive, and subsequently delete anyone who doesn’t make active use of the social network.

I, for instance, usually unfollow any user who has been inactive for more than two weeks. It may seem severe, but there is no point in following someone who never uses the network.

Something many newbies don’t notice at first are the Twitter lists you can create to divide Twitter users into categories. If you participate in the recipe niche, for example, and want to keep all the users who write recipes for kids together, you can use a list. Plus, the great thing about these lists is that you don’t have to be following those you add to it. This makes it a great way of keeping track of people who interest you to a certain extent, but not enough to follow them.

Always be positive when sharing on Twitter. More likely than not, your followers haven’t met you face to face. They don’t care if you’ve had a bad day at work, or if you hate your sister-in-law.

They have enough problems of their own to face, so unless you are celebrity who is basically at liberty to say whatever he/she wants, or a comedian who makes a living out of putting a funny spin on the negative side of life, keep your tweets as positive as possible.

Be very explicit and straightforward in your biography. State exactly what your niche is and what you intend to tweet about. There is nothing wrong with using the generic phrase “I am a ____, and I tweet about ____.” People on Twitter don’t have the time to fish through all your tweets to discover your niche.

Sometimes it is necessary to “take out the garbage” on Twitter. This means using a third-party program like Tweepie to weed out a) anyone who does not follow you AND doesn’t interest you, b) inactive users, c) fake followers, and d) users who followed you and then immediately unfollowed you when you followed them back.

If you write an article about a specific brand’s product, make sure you always include the brand’s Twitter handle in your tweet. Depending on the social nature of the brand, they may share or retweet your article, allowing it to reach a wide and relevant audience. For instance, every time I share an article of mine with a brand, I usually gain about 5-10 followers from the subsequent retweet or share.

Try to post images as much as possible. Now that Twitter shows a preview of any image you tweet, they tend to get more attention than a tweet that consists solely of text. I like to post images that show me being active in my niche. If you are in the recipe niche, for instance, you may want to regularly post photos of yourself in the kitchen, realizing your culinary masterpieces!

Five Big Twitter Don’ts

If you want to lose followers, this is the way to go!

In the hours I spend on Twitter, I see so many people breaking some of the most basic rules of Twitter etiquette, and losing followers as a result. How do the rules of Twitter etiquette differ from those in the real world? Not much, to be honest. All you need is a bit of common sense to get the most out of this great social network.

  1. Don’t be negative! Nobody wants to hear about how much you hate your mother-in-law or how you just ate the worst sandwich of your life. Cursing and badmouthing are a surefire way to getting unfollowed, if not banned from the network entirely.
  2. Don’t tweet about irrelevant things. Yes, it is fine to write an off-topic tweet every now and then if you are sure that it will bring a smile to someone’s face but 99% of the time, you should be wholly focused on your niche and the needs of your followers.
  3. Don’t follow someone just so they’ll return the favour. And even worse, don’t unfollow that person as soon as they’ve followed you back. That’s like offering a child a lollypop and snatching it away at the last minute. It’s just downright rude. Give the person a chance before deciding whether or not an unfollow is necessary.
  4. Don’t buy fake followers. Experienced Twitter users are very good at sniffing out phoney accounts. One look at someone’s list of followers and you can easily tell whether the account is legitimate or not. And if that isn’t reason enough, avoid buying followers because they won’t bring any value to your experience on Twitter. These bought followers won’t share your work, and even if they do, they won’t have any followers themselves who will read or share it.
  5. Don’t use Twitter as a substitute for a chat room. Just as too few tweets can be damaging to your account, so can too many, especially if they are irrelevant to your other followers. If you want to hold a long discussion, take it to the private message box or exchange emails.
linkedin for small businesses

Local Businesses and Linkedin

linkedin for small businessesLinkedin is a platform for executives, professionals, and businesses and their owners to not only showcase their resumes, but to showcase the value proposition of the business and how they deliver their product to customers and solve problems.

With Linkedin at your disposal, you have the person that you need to talk with in order to make a connection to see if your product or service will fit what his needs are.

Local businesses form sort of a loose bond of crusaders when all of the smoke clears because a local community has an economy all its own. This economy can be a vibrant and ongoing one where it will grow when the conditions are right and supportive. People generally like to business on a local basis because it is easy to get familiar with local people and convenient to continue in that vein.

Local business can mean a small community, and it can mean a larger area in a larger metropolitan area, but local is more compatible to most business people simply because it is easier.

Linkedin gives us the ability to contact people in a very professional manner by reaching out with your value proposition, and stating what you have. One good way of doing that is by forming or joining groups in areas where you specialize according to your product or service. When people see what you do, you will get inquiries and referrals.

When you put your profile onto Linked in you become very transparent fairly quickly, and people will gravitate to you based upon their needs and what they see in your profile. Also you can get reviews of your service which will help people get to know more about what you do.

The ethic of Linkedin is that of a community of people that have the ability to share abilities for the common good of all. For the purposes of marketing your firm and business it really works because all of the other people on linked are people just like you in that they are also marketing themselves and their goods and services.

One tactic that many Linkedin subscribers have taken to heart is to hire a Linkedin coach, or a person who knows their way around the system. In that way you can use all of the available bells and whistles of the system to make yourself stand out (click here) from the crowd so you can gain a following that is real and vibrant.

Right now there are over 130 million business owners who are on Linkedin and that includes many local business owners, many in your own community, or in communities which are nearby who would probably be interested in what it is that you do, if they only knew a little more about you.

And there is one thing about the community on Linkedin, the more your services get used and recommended, the more that they will be used and recommended. That is not just idle chatter, but it is fact and certainly worth shooting for and implementing.

reasons to use LinkedIn

Four Reasons To Take Advantage Of LinkedIn!

reasons to use LinkedInFour Reasons For You To Create A LinkedIn Account For Your Small Business

Working On Building A Brand

When you meet someone in person at a promotional event and you introduce yourself, it is likely that they will go and look for you on the Internet. A profile on LinkedIn will help people find you and get a sense of who you are, so you should get an account if you do not already have one. In order to boost your credibility, you should add rich media features, like sales sheets and presentations.

You should look at your profile as a great representation of you as a professional that will allow others to connect further. One thing you must remember is that speaking in first person tense is a must since it will give readers the impression that you are talking to them directly. This will keep them engaged and encourage them to connect with you.

Taking Advantage Of Free Marketing

LinkedIn company pages are a free and effective way to market your business to others. While it should not be used as a replacement to your site, it is a useful supplement. Small business owners who choose not to build company pages on LinkedIn are losing out on the opportunity to spread the word and increase their customer base.

One way that your company can increase it’s image would be to work hard to build a solid search engine presence. You can do this by using the best possible keywords and phrases on your page. These are the terms that people will use when they are performing searches. For example, if your company sells orthopedic shoes, keywords like, “men’s orthopedic shoes” and “orthopedic shoes for ladies” will be very helpful. Use a tool like Google Adwords or SEMRush to figure out what the best keywords would be.

Extended Your Sales Reach

People in your network on LinkedIn can help you make more sales. You have to build your network and work on making the best possible connections. Vendors, co-workers and people you have met at events are a good start.

Using the advanced search feature on LinkedIn, small businesses can find out who they should connect with, figure out which current relationships can open up new doors and reach out to the best possible people. It is not all about who you know; who they know matters as well. That is one of the best things about LinkedIn: You have the chance to make connections and build your brand through word of mouth.

Attracting The Top Talent In Your Industry

If you are looking to attract new clients, LinkedIn is the place where the wise ones begin their search. Small business owners should have a personal profile or company page that will help them build their brand. If you are looking for top talent, you must have a page that is in line.

Those who are looking for new people to hire for their company can post job listings and search the site for potential candidates. Searching for candidates on your own means that you will have the chance to handpick the type of person that will fit the position you are trying to fill, reach out to them and lead them to your job listing.

The biggest error a small business owner can make would be to ignore all of the features LinkedIn has to offer. Whether you are just getting started or you have more experience, LinkedIn is a great resource for anyone that is looking to give their small business a much-needed boost.

Now that you have all of this information available to you, there should be no reason to hesitate any further.

linkedin for leads

Will LinkedIn Help With Leads?

linkedin for leadsGetting leads is starting to become one of the most difficult things for people involved in Internet marketing to do.

However, what people need to realize is it is going to be easier for them to find the right information and leads by using various websites to help them out in getting the information.

This is when people should know more about how they can use LinkedIn to help them in developing the leads they need to have for their business.

Without this, people are going to continue to have to work harder and harder to gain the leads they need.

Knowledge of the likes and interest of the professionals is going to be the primary reason why people are going to want to go here. While most people never think about this, they need to realize this is going to allow them to get more information about the professionals and this is going to allow them to establish a closer connection.

This in turn will help people in getting the right connection and possibly the higher results of completing the connection compared to what they were anticipating beforehand.

With the information on LinkedIn, people will start to get to explore and reach out to contacts who already match what people are looking for.

While some people never think about this, they need to realize that if they are reaching out to targeted people they will have a higher level of conversion.

Since most people list their job titles or what they have done in the past on this website, it will start to be easier for people to target those individuals and this is going to help them in getting to reach out to the proper people, but also improve the chances of getting a conversion.

Quality of the leads that people are going to get is something else that people will enjoy when they are using LinkedIn. Normally people think that any lead is going to be a good one, which can be the case at times.

However, what people need to realize is if they get better high quality leads they are going to be able to have better conversions and potentially new clients versus the basic leads that may not provide people with the right type of assistance.

When people are looking at the different ways to build up leads, they will generally end up looking at the different ways to do this and will turn to Facebook, Google +, and their own websites to do the work.

What people do not realize is they need to look at LinkedIn as well. By using LinkedIn, people will start to get the high quality leads they need to have, but also start to get the assistance that is needed to make these leads into one of the most qualified leads around.

This way people will start to get the right leads and know they will convert because of the type of leads they are getting. For example, services like accounting outsource services or legal online services could potentially benefit, especially when looking at the areas that can be targeted on a geographical basis.

linkedin introduction

An Introduction to LinkedIn

linkedin introductionLinkedIn is a medium that is used by people all over the world. This is a great way to use the growing use of technology to something that can be very useful.

For instance, this is a platform used to make networks and bond with people who may have gone to the same school as you, or applying to same job or if you are someone who is looking to hire someone you can find resumes and their education all on here through their profile.

This is a great way to get or find a job if you are looking to hire someone or are wanting to get hired. People who are just wanting to form connections or get an idea of what others who have their degree are working with, again this is a great medium to look at for some help.

This is something that is used be hundreds and thousands of people making it a lot more fun and worth trying out. If you are someone who is wanting to do any of the things that I have listed above it is time that you create your very own account.

Getting an introduction to LinkedIn is very simple. You just want to firstly make an account. Make an account under your name and also do not forget to include an email address that you normally use when applying for jobs.

You want it to be professional, so that it ends up leaving a great impressions. Silly one’s can be excused because that does not set up a convincing profile for you. Later, you also want to save up a picture that represents you well.

Just make sure that it is not a selfie, or anything that does not seem formal or represent you correctly. The best would be to stand behind a plain background, wear formal work clothes and look well put together and smile.

This will showcase that you are friendly, organized and you know what it takes to take responsibility you want to make them see that you are mature for the position that they possibly may offer you.

Making an account here is perfect because a resume is very flat, you cannot put too much information on there, but with this they also get to see a face to the picture making it more personal and giving you a better shot at getting the job.

Getting an introduction to LinkedIn is very simple and really only requires you to follow a few quick and simple steps. After you are done following those you are good to go.

You then just want to request to follow people you know, or are in the same program or university as you, so that you can from there start building up connections.

You also want to ensure that all the information you write about yourself is accurate and not too detailed, but also not too brief, just enough so they understand and get a jist about your education and previous experience.