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Create Amazing Infographics to Increase Viral Blog Traffic

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Everyone knows that a major player in any type of blog or web site traffic is being able to create something that goes viral. Few things go viral and provide high quality content at the same time like infographics do. Everyone loves infographics and not only do they make the process of reading and learning fun, but they are a bit hit among the social networks. It doesn’t matter what niche you are in, infographics can be created for virtually anything you can think of.

One of the biggest problems with creating infographics is that it seems to be a secret art form. Not everyone has the skills to use Photoshop and be a master designer. Another complex area of creating your own infographic is having to pull all of the information together to make the infographic work and makes sense.

For times like these, it’s best to outsource your infographic design work to someone that has a proven track record, amazing quality and also won’t charge you thousands of dollars in the process. The group over at InfographicDesignTeam.com have created an amazing portfolio of infographics that they have all custom created, and they would love to create one for you as well.

Let’s take a look at some of their amazing design work. Click on any of the infographics below to view the full version.

Astonishing Stats on Social Media Usage in 2012 Infographic

How a Bad Infographic Can Ruin Your Business Infographic

All You Wanted to Know About Viral Marketing Infographic

How to Make Your Content Viral Infographic

Breaking Down the Infographic Design Process

As a site owner or blogger, I’m sure you have plenty of ideas for great infographics that you could use for your site, you simply don’t know how to create the designs and put all of the data together. That is where Infographic Design Team’s design process comes in.

To create your infographic, all you need to do is look through their current portfolio and see what type of design best represents what you would like to have created. You will then follow up with their design team to include your instructions on design, data and how you would like everything to come together. Within three to five days you will have the first design draft of your completed infographic. Should there be any design changes and revisions, the Infographic Design Team will gladly make any necessary changes to make your infographic perfect.

How to Order Your Infographic

As mentioned earlier, there are many other infographic design services out there that are currently charging over $1000-$2000 for each infographic they create! These types of high prices are what eliminates regular bloggers and site owners from being able to create and use their own infographics.

Creating your infographic through Infographic Design Team, rates starts at just $399 and go up to $1499 for the largest and most complex packages. To get started with your own infographic design and open up a whole new world of viral traffic coming to your web site or blog, be sure to visit InfographicDesignTeam.com.

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Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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The Top 3 Promotional Items Your Business Should Be Using

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When it comes to promoting your blog or brand, handing out promotional items is one of the most effective ways to do it. People love free stuff. If you give them something useful for free, they’ll love you, too. This also works well for branding yourself as an expert, or showing off your best content and expertise through your blog.

And each time they use your useful product, they see your brand name. This repetition will leave your brand imprinted in their memory.

While there are many ways to purchase company schwag and bags with your brand name on them, some products will have better success than others. For example, if you’ve ever been to an affiliate or marketing conference, just take a look at the tables that are getting all the attention, and people are flocking to for the free gifts.

Making sure you have a great exhibit it also key. Imagine having one like the Avengers Infinity War showcase below?! This would really wow your audience and leave a lasting impression.

So what are the top promo items to give out at the next trade show? Read on to find out.

Runners Up: Pens and Flash Drives

Before we get to the top 3, promo pens and flash drives deserve honorable mention. Both are cheap and extremely useful. And both can be customized in really cool ways.

Though they’ve been around a long time, flash drives have many benefits that are still relevant today. But as useful and appreciated as flash drives are, their use has declined since the introduction of cloud storage technology.

Promo pens are the most common promotional item. There are many creative ways to distribute them even outside the trade show setting. Entire volumes can be written about using promo pens to market your business.

But let’s face it: no one at the trade show will be excited about pens. And even the coolest pen won’t last longer than a year.

Still, promo pens and flash drives (and flash drive pens!) are a decent cheap option. But they’re not the best.

The following items, however, are sure to wow trade show attendees and get lots of use for a long, long time.

1. Mobile Device Chargers With Power Banks

Device chargers are super useful items that your attendees will use every day. These will be very much appreciated. BUT, if you’re not careful, handing out chargers can backfire for a couple reasons.

For one, you can buy these for a dollar. That means your attendees may already have 3 of them. For two, your trade show may have 3 other booths handing out chargers.

If you’re handing out chargers alone, be competitive. Make sure they are the high-quality ones and not the super-cheap kind.

Better yet, one-up everyone at the trade show by handing out fully-charged, portable power banks with your chargers. These babies make your promo chargers immediately useful.

Anyone at the trade show with a dead phone battery can connect to one of your power banks on the spot and get a few more hours of use.

These will be very appreciated. And it’s doubtful anyone has “too many” power banks.

2. Reusable Water Bottles

Why not be super helpful and environmentally-friendly? Thirsty trade show attendees need to stay hydrated. With reusable water bottles, you’re filling a need and reducing plastic waste.

It will do well for your conscience and your image to do good to the environment. And you can set up refill stations so people keep coming back to your booth. Besides, these are a really great item to hand out anywhere, not just at trade shows.

3. T-Shirts

If you’re anything like us, you’ve never turned down a free shirt. Even if it’s not your favorite, you can still use it as pajamas, workout clothes, even drying your car after a wash.

Plus, we apparently don’t throw them out. A study by the Advertising Specialty Institute found that T-shirts are the most-owned promotional item in the U.S.

But if you really want to steal the show, be awesome. That is, get creative and funny and pump out a variety of fun, branded shirts people will actually enjoy.

You can even set up a laptop with a camera and a printer to make personalized photo shirts. You can also allow attendees to use photos from their phone.

These fun shirts will cost the same as the lame ones you were planning to make, anyway. And, as we said, they will be used regardless.

Steal the Trade Show With These Promotional Items

Do you want to waste time and money pushing unpopular promo items nobody wants? Or do you want to show up with the best promotional items at the trade show and wow attendees and competitors alike? The choice is yours, but we really suggest you choose the latter.

Use these top promo products at your next trade show for the win!

Now check out 11 Brand Building Basics For Entrepreneurs.

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A Guide to Lead Generation through Automated E-Mail Marketing

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I must build an email list

No matter what the nature of your business, or how long you have been in operation, lead generation is one of the most sophisticated challenges you face. Even if you are successful, with a range of happy and satisfied clients, your future growth depends on your ability to generate new leads and gain new customers along the way. It does not matter if your company is a new start-up or a seasoned Fortune 500 company; without leads, your business will be unable to grow and compete in the modern world.

Lead generation has always been a tricky process, regardless of the methods used to generate those leads. As a business owner, you want to get as many leads as you can and pass them on to your sales team in a timely manner. At the same time, simply flooding your sales staff with hundreds of unqualified leads will only create dissension in the ranks and reduce the efficiency of your operation.

Simply put, all leads are not the same, and not all leads are equally valuable. If you want to succeed and make the most of your limited time and staffing resources, you need to find a way to qualify leads first.

The first step is to make sure your current email list is actually still valid. You can use an email verification service to check the quality of your list, and ensure that all of your current leads on your email list are still valid and ready to be placed onto your automated email marketing plan.

There’s also lots of email marketing software available to help you make the most of your campaign, but these can be costly, and not all businesses will have the budget to make use of these services.

This is where email automation comes into play. Email automation allows the owners of all kinds of businesses to generate a steady stream of valuable leads – leads they can pass on to their sales team or run down on their own.

Building Trust

No matter how long your business has been in operation, customers will not want to do business with you if they do not trust you or believe you can deliver on the promises you make. Building trust is an essential part of the modern business world, vital for everything from gaining new customers to building your brand identity.

Developing trust among your base of potential customers is also essential as you create and fine tune your email list. The more your potential and existing customers trust you, the more likely they will be to buy the products and services you have to offer. Building trust is not always an easy thing to do, and there are no shortcuts to success.

One of the best ways to begin developing trust among your base of website visitors, email recipients, and advertising targets is through premium giveaways. Everyone loves to get something for free, and offering a premium item of real value serves a number of important purposes.

For one thing, offering a free whitepaper for download allows you to gather contact information and start building your email list. Placing the premium offer on your company website, linking to it in your blog posts, and featuring it prominently in your print advertising is a great way to gather leads while building trust among your customer base. Offering to give away such a valuable item is a sign of trust on your part, and over time that trust will be returned.

Offering a free downloadable whitepaper is also an effective way to build your brand identity. Creating a compelling brand narrative has never been more important than it is today, given the fact that so many consumers now speed through commercials and have learned to tune out marketing messages. A well-written whitepapers gets your company and your brand in front of readers and helps them develop a level of trust going forward.

Offering a downloadable whitepaper also allows you to demonstrate your expertise. Modern consumers are looking for real expertise in the companies they do business with, and a quality whitepaper is one of the best representations of your expertise and experience. Once you have gained the trust of your target audience, you can add other offers and make your future lead-generation efforts even more successful.

To learn more about what’s working best in reference to building trust and creating a mailing list that people actually want to open, be sure to check out this guide to email marketing from AppInstitute.

Additional Offers

That downloadable whitepaper is an excellent place to start, but it is just the beginning of the trust-building and lead-generation process. Once you have the attention of your readers and customers, you can slowly start to offer other items they will find valuable. This strategy will serve to further build trust and cement your reputation as an expert in your chosen industry.

The additional items can be anything your customer base or prospect list is likely to find valuable. If your product or service is visual in nature, a short video clip is a good way to demonstrate its benefits and encourage casual shoppers to become loyal customers. Whether you are selling a garden implement, a piece of cookware, or sports equipment, a real-world video demonstration is a useful sales tool.

Case studies can be just as valuable in terms of lead generation. Modern consumers are more savvy than ever before, and they rely on much more than the claims of manufacturers and resellers to make their purchase decisions. Giving your prospects real-world case studies and offering reviews by real customers is a vital part of the trust-building process. The more case studies you can provide, the better; embedding one in each email you send is a smart strategy for success.

If you maintain a blog, be sure to update the site regularly and use it to build brand loyalty and engender trust among your list of prospects. Blogging is a great way to convey information, but it is also a valuable sales tool for all kinds of businesses.

The Importance of Follow-Up

No matter how compelling your message or how valuable your premium items, you cannot expect to get a huge response rate with a single message. That is why having a follow-up strategy is so important.

There are lots of different email marketing software that can help you to measure your open/read rate, this information will be crucial in helping you to understand what works and what doesn’t.

If your prospects do not respond to your first message, always be ready with a follow-up email. With email automation you can set up the schedule and forget about it, making the follow-up process that much easier and improving your long-term results.

Offering additional resource in your follow-up communications is important. Those additional resources should be similar, but not identical, to the ones that were offered before. If your previous email message contained a link to an online video, your follow-up message might include a case study or an online review. It is all designed to work together, even though each new message is its own unique entity.

Bringing It All Together – The All-Important Call to Action

Now that you have demonstrated your expertise, provided real value to your prospects and delivered information to your readers, it is time to bring it all together. No matter how great your previous messages may have been, without a solid call to action (CTA), you may never be able to close the sale.

The CTA is a vital part of every lead-generation strategy, whether the communication takes place online or off. If you are prospecting for new leads through email, every previous step o the process has been leading to this moment, the moment when you reach out to each prospect personally in an attempt to close the sale and convert interested readers into eager customers.

The format of the CTA email you send will be critical, and you need to give it the attention it deserves. While you should tailor your call to action to the needs of your specific business, you can use this handy email template to get you started.

Dear [First Name], 

I hope you have found the resources I sent you interesting and useful. I would like to learn more about what you are up to and if there is any way I can support you. Why don’t we schedule a call for next Tuesday at 2pm, or Thursday at 4pm?

Alternatively, your CTA email could suggest a product demonstration, or a face-to-face meeting instead of a call. It is all up to you, but the goal of your email should be to get your lead to take some sort of positive action. Even if it is nothing more than registering on your website or signing up for your newsletter, your goal is a positive response.

The Final Step

In a perfect world, every call to action would result in a new lead your sales staff can follow up on, but we do not live in a perfect world. In the real world, even the most finely tuned CTA will probably not generate a 100% response rate.

That is why you need to incorporate a final step into your email automation and lead-generation process. This final step will follow up on the call to action and give you one last chance to close the deal.

Not everyone who receives your CTA will be comfortable reaching out to you directly or having a face-to-face meeting. That is why you need to provide additional alternatives that will generate new leads and drive new customers through your virtual doors.

Your email automation process will have already sorted out which list members responded positively to your CTA and which ones did not. Once you have segmented your list and identified your target, you will craft a final email that provides that alternative response method.

You, for instance, invite those prospects to sign up for a group you are part of. If you have a LinkedIn profile or a Facebook page, you can simply invite your email recipients to connect with you on LinkedIn or interact with you on Facebook. Interacting with clients and customers is what social media is all about, at least for businesses. Using it to your advantage is a key part of the lead generation process.

If you do not have a ready-made group set up, you can always encourage your prospects to sign up for a free newsletter. Creating a monthly newsletter filled with helpful tips and inside industry information is a great way to generate new leads and encourage prospects to become customers. At the minimum, this strategy will keep your company and your brand at the top of the customer’s mind.

At first glance, the email automation process may seem like an arcane and confusing one, but the reality is much simpler. You can think of the email automation lead-generation process as a kind of funnel. You start by organically building a list of email addresses, using sign-up forms on your website or blog, business cards collected from customers, and so on. All of those email addresses go into the top of the funnel, starting with the first email you send.

That first email will generate a number of positive responses, leads that can be passed on to your sales team for further action. The remaining email addresses drop down through the funnel, and after a period of time, the recipients receive a follow-up offer for a free video presentation, blog post, or tip-filled newsletter.

Again, that second email will generate a number of new leads, which will in turn be fed to your sales team. The remaining email prospects will receive additional offers, and finally a strong call to action. At the end of each step, you will new leads to work with, and that is good news for your sales team – and for you.

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How to Start Building Your New Site Authority Using High-Traffic and Niche Web Directories

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Web directories are definitely not what they once were, however, we have witnessed the evolution of directories and websites that play that role in a modern setting – with significant success.

Think Yelp or TripAdvisor. These websites are directories of sorts, and they’ve grown enormously from their ability to provide intelligent, useful information (or value) to the user. On the other hand, there have been instances where we’ve seen Google pull down or demote dozens (if not hundreds) of directories that have no real value, while others are left to function freely.

Yet, there are not many things a new blogger can do (on a small budget) to gain that required initial visibility to go from there.

Can web directories still be an option for a new site?

Background

When the internet started to expand in the late 1990s, a lot of users found it difficult to locate information about specific subjects. Search functions were a lot less developed then and it was a challenge to obtain results for specific keywords (even Google didn’t have a streamlined system for displaying relevant results back in 2000). So in order to give users broad access to information on a variety of subjects, web directories were set up.

Initially, there wasn’t much competition and the first directories received high rankings and lots of visibility. At the same time advertisers started appreciating the potential of directories for setting up a business model for their operators that financed itself. In addition, web directories offered new opportunities for SEOs who posted their articles with strong backlinks.

Getting a website listed in a directory used to be a sure path to web traffic and success. However, all this changed as search engines developed, and since 2012 when Google released Penguin, the value of article directories dropped significantly – particularly in relation to link building.

How to still get value from directories?

Think traffic and reputation management, not link juice, DA, and all sorts of terms I cannot stand. Check those directories on social media (are they active? Are they up-to-date? Are there other people talking about them?) and get an idea of their web traffic through tools like Alexa, SimilarWeb or a more web analyzers

Traffic

Any web directory that is created for the sole purpose of helping you boost your ranking should be avoided. If they have a list that is genuinely designed to help people, then search engines will treat them well as well.

Here are trusted directories with solid traffic that are able to direct leads to your blog:

  • BOTW – They offer the same service but for a fee. Once a link is submitted and payment is made, they manually review it and only include it in their directory when they’re satisfied it meets their level of quality.
  • Curlie (former DMOZ) – is an open-content free directory that is managed by editors in a community called Open Directory Project. These volunteers are impartial and take time to review each submitted link before they only put it in their directory if it meets or exceeds their criteria.
  • DirJournal – A web directory that has been in the industry for years featuring business listings as well as several topic based blogs. Several payment plans are available. Bear in mind that payment is not a guarantee of acceptance.
  • Jasmine Directory – Another great web directory with great metrics. You won”t find as many listings as in other directories but linking to NYTimes or various universities it”s a clear sign that they add resources manually as well, as they state they do.
  • Alive Directory – one of the oldest web directories out there, it has a rigid editorial discretion and an intuitive layout. As a webmaster or business owner, you can submit your website to general or topic based industry categories.
  • Aviva Directory – most webmasters must of heard about this directory. A few years ago, in the “Alive and Aviva” era, the blogosphere featured these two directories heavily. Many webmasters reported positive SERP signals by having their websites included in Aviva Directory.

Find niche directories

In general, the more specific a directory is, the more valuable it is. This isn’t always the case, however you’re more likely to find what you’re looking for if you go through a niche directory. For instance, if you search through a directory dedicated to chemical engineering, or other specific field, any listings you find will most likely be of high value.

Niche directories can be huge, especially there’s some non-profit organization or an active community behind one. A few great examples of niche directories which are worth every effort include:

  • Biolinks: All about biology, this is a great directory founded by BIOZONE, an international publishing house based in New Zealand, with offices in the US, United Kingdom and Australia.
  • Startup Inspire: a great directory offering exposure to new businesses and websites
  • Game Top Sites: a solid directory listing lots of gaming blogs and apps. If you are launching soon, here is a solid list of directories to get listed.
  • Alternative To: This one specializes in technology, SaaS and apps. Get your site listed if you want to be found when someone is searching for your competitor

Conclusion

You need to start somewhere and getting listed in solid directories is your first step to leaving footprint on the web and start building visibility.

When you think about it, the criteria we’ve used to determine whether a directory is effort-worthy is basically the same criteria that makes any website valuable to the user (and this value easily translates into high rankings). Even if you don’t see the immediate value of directories, there’s no harm in using them as one more tool in your campaign to gain exposure.

Spend enough time crafting each submission. Take time on your website description, title, and any other information that you think may be of value or that your link requires.

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