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Grow Customer Engagement This Holiday Season With Free Giveaways

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Offering customers and prospects free giveaways can be a powerful strategy to increase brand visibility, drive engagement and increase sales, especially during the holiday season. Although giving away free products may seem counterintuitive, well-executed giveaways and contests can help you achieve rapid growth.

According to Shopify, giveaways have been widely successful in driving growing traffic to the platform’s blog and social media accounts, while many organizations reported an increase in revenue by employing the same strategy.

We asked 13 entrepreneurs from YEC to share their best ideas for driving customer engagement and increasing sales through the use of free giveaways this holiday season.

1. Let Your Customers Give Back

This year, we will be giving our customers the opportunity to donate a percentage of their purchases to the charity of their choice. This is the gift of giving back that really resonates with our clients.

Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged

2. Make It Specific to Your Audience’s Needs

When running a giveaway, your no. 1 goal should be to build your email list with targeted leads. To accomplish this, your giveaway needs to be a product that only your target customer would use. For example, don’t give away an iPad; everyone in the world wants one. Instead, if your audience consists of, say, online marketers, give away a yearly subscription to a marketing software you love.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

3. Retarget With Free Trials

As a service provider, we’ve found retargeting coupled with free trials to be an effective strategy. Retargeting allows us to create promotions relevant to the user’s browsing history. If they show an interest in a particular type of server hosting, we can retarget them with advertising containing promotions related to that product.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

4. Partner With a Publisher

In your category or niche, there are at least a handful of publishers who partner with brands for giveaways. This allows you to leverage the relationship they have with their already large audience to get more active participation so you can ensure thousands of highly qualified consumers will be clamoring to win your giveaway.

Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

5. Utilize Social Media Influencers

Giveaways are a great opportunity to directly engage with current and potential customers. We have hosted a few subscription giveaways, and have even gone outside of our current customer base to host a giveaway with an Instagram influencer. In this instance, we were able to engage with potential customers who may have never seen our brand before, and it expanded our own following.

Stefan Lewinger, Sock Fancy

6. Barter for Reviews

We recently launched a new line and wanted to generate reviews on Amazon so potential customers could see what real users were saying. As such, we gave away hundreds of samples with a stipulation: You’re accepting this free giveaway if, in return, you agree to post an honest (good or bad), constructive review on Amazon within a week. This really helped get the ball rolling.

Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

7. Exchange for Email Addresses

Online giveaways are a great opportunity to collect email addresses for highly targeted email marketing campaigns. Ask your visitors a few questions to best target future email marketing campaigns, such as their names and what they are interested in hearing from you in the future. Then, take this information and segment your email lists to deliver only what they want from you.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

8. Bundle Offers Together

This is an effective strategy commonly used in smartphone apps and online games. Giving away an amount of store credit big enough to purchase one smaller item, with a bit extra left over, will encourage customers to spend more of their own money to get the most out of the remainder. They’ll end up spending more money than they originally would’ve, but will still feel like they got a good deal.

Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA

9. Offer Branded Merchandise

If you don’t want to give away the farm, branded merchandise is the perfect free giveaway for customers who make a purchase with you this season. This could be a T-shirt, hat or something smaller. People love branded merchandise, and it also boosts your word-of-mouth advertising. The more loyal people are to your brand, the more likely they’ll be to bite.

Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

10. Organize Sweepstakes and Contests

We are offering a holiday giveaway for all new customer sign-ups within the month of December. This allows us to drive sales through our people, on our website and via social. This is a good incentive and great for driving sales during that critical last month of the year.

Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

11. Use a Countdown

Countdowns in e-commerce are great. They create a lot of excitement and buzz around the sale. It can get your customers to know what’s coming up and can be used to leverage sharing and more discount offers.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

12. Reward Social Media Followers

Making it exclusive to a certain part of your audience that is more loyal is a great approach. It creates the idea that only certain people can get it because they have gone the extra step to be loyal. That’s why those that take the time to like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram get holiday giveaway access, hopefully encouraging others to sign up.

John Rampton, Calendar

13. Play on the Excitement of a Good Deal

It’s so easy to run a promotion during the holiday season because most people are out actively looking for a good deal. If you can play on this excitement, your online giveaways can gain a lot of traction. In turn, you can add the new sign-ups to a unique nurturing funnel and create a paid upsell offer for them to take advantage of, turning them into paying customers.

Nathalie Lussier, AmbitionAlly

How to Get the Most Out of Your Holiday Promotions

While the holidays and fourth quarter might seem like the best time to run a contest or giveaway promotion, year-round promotions are happening all the time. Get creative with your ad campaigns and engage with new audiences through social sharing and refer-a-friend promotions. Sometimes the best contests and giveaways are for simple prizes or promotions, that paid ad campaigns could never duplicate!

If you enjoyed this expert round up, be sure to read our previous ones on top recommended entrepreneur books and also 7 low-cost site builders to consider when creating your next site.

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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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5 Ways to Get More Instagram Likes to Drive High Converting Traffic to Your Blog

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Qoruz Brand Engagement

I am surprised that Instagram is still an overlooked traffic source for bloggers. With over 1 billion active users, it is the second best social networking site in the world for reaching potential blog readers.

Unfortunately, not everybody that uses Instagram has great results. You need to understand how the Instagram algorithm works and find compelling content that inspires people to visit your site.

Instagram gives more visibility to content that receives more likes. Once your posts start getting more visibility, you will be able to refer people to your profile page and encourage them to visit your blog.

Here are some proven strategies to boost your Instagram likes, which will drive more traffic to your blog.

Get Followers to Create (Original) High Quality Content for You

Content is king. That is just as much a truism with Instagram as blogging. Unfortunately, coming up with compelling content can be tough on your own, especially if creating visual content isn’t your specialty.

Don’t worry – you don’t have to do it on your own. Conscripting your followers to create great content for you can work wonders.

Adidas Neo got their followers to take pictures of themselves wearing Adidas products. They chose the best pictures and featured them on their Instagram profile.

You may not have as large of a following as Adidas, but you can still get your existing blog readers and social media followers to help you come up with great visual content. Many bloggers offer contests to people that share images. There are a few tips to pull this off effectively:

  • Don’t make it sound like they are doing you a favor. Make it feel like they are making a contribution to other people. For example, if you run a weight loss blog, ask for pictures of people engaged in weight loss activities to inspire others.
  • Offer some valuable incentives to make it worth people’s while. This could be a coupon, cash reward or simply some exposure on your site.

You will be surprised by how well this can work.

Experiment with Local Hashtags

You may run a blog that appeals to people all over the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try marketing to people at the local level. If you have a blog post that is relevant to a specific city, try using local hashtags. They can get a surprising among of publicity with people in that area, since people notice hashtags that are more specific to their area.

Run a “Like to Enter” or “Tag to Enter” Campaign

There are a lot of ways to run contests on social media. Getting people to share content is a great idea if you need more fresh images to share on your Instagram feed.

But what if you already have lots of great images, but don’t have a strong enough following? You may be hurting for likes.

Running a “like to enter” campaign can be a great idea. You can tell people that they just need to like a post to be eligible for a reward. It is as simple as that. Can you imaging how many likes you could earn by promising a chance to earn a $30 reward if people simply needed to like your post? That might be far more cost-effective than running a like campaign on Instagram or Facebook.

Another idea is to run a “tag to enter” campaign. This is a campaign where people need to tag two or more friends in one of your Instagram posts to be eligible. The idea here is to help you reach more followers than you otherwise would.

One of my colleagues created a like to enter campaign for her mommy blog last year. It helped her increase her Instagram visibility by over 60%.

Consider Buying Likes

Many people are very skittish about buying likes on Instagram. However, this approach can actually work very well. You just need to make sure that you go with a right provider for this service, as quality and timing is the key when buying Instagram likes. In order  to reach people that are interested in your content you have to make yourself visible on Instagram. And that’s exactly what buying Instagram likes does, it make your posts visible for more people. Make sure to use a company that has quality accounts and fast delivery speed (30 minutes or less). A key point when using this technique is to buy Instagram likes as soon as possible after uploading a new post. Instagram likes from BuySocialMediaMarketing come within minutes after placing an order which makes it a perfect boost to get more visibility for your posts on Instagram.

I must build an email list

Use Your Email List to Create Lookalike Ad Campaigns

Running an ad campaign on Instagram will take a larger budget, but it can pay off very well if you target carefully. You just need to find people that resemble your existing blog list.

Unfortunately, you can’t use your Google Analytics data to create a lookalike campaign. You need actual email addresses.

This means that you may want to use your existing email list to build a lookalike campaign. Bloom and Wild did this last year and gained a tremendous number of Instagram likes with their profile as a result. They had a large email list already and were able to use that for their campaign. They found that you don’t need a huge budget to make it work. It just takes a little ingenuity and a great understanding of your audience.

You Don’t Need a Huge Budget to Get Instagram Likes

Getting more Instagram likes can substantially increase the visibility of your content, which will translate to a lot more traffic to your blog. Once you understand the types of approaches that yield the most likes, you will start noticing impressive results!

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5 Social Sharing Buttons to Help Increase Blog Post Engagement

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Social Sharing Buttons

Billions of people are active on social media and you never want to miss this insane amount of power for your own blog.

This is the reason blog owners should use tools for increasing social media engagement that leads to increasing your blog’s performance.

Being a blogger, you write valuable content for your audience. And while you do that, you must make social media do the job for you.

One of the easiest ways to integrate social media is to add social sharing buttons to your blog. These prove to be effective in building blog engagement because it encourages your readers to share your content with just one-click.

Think about this: when you work hard on your content, you know it deserves attention.

Aside from boosting your blog engagement, social shares also act as social proof.

The more shares you can muster from your social buttons, the better off your blog will be!

Below are social sharing buttons you should consider:

1. Social Warfare

social warfare

Social Warfare is a powerful social sharing button tool made for WordPress users. It has a one-click install and unlike others, it’s already filled with complete features so you don’t have to install more add-ons for extra optimization.

Its free version already comes with cool features but it also comes with a pro version that includes link shortening, analytics campaign tracking, and a hover pin button for Pinterest.

Social Warfare also boasts its Share Recovery tool. If you ever change your domain name or go from HTTP to HTTPS, the plugin will restore and recover all your social shares.

Last, it also allows for third-party developers to extend the plugin’s functionality even more or as needed.

2. AddThis

AddThis contains with useful features for social sharing and is a trusted tool over 15 million downloaded and installed on their domains. It has over 200 social media integrations and all its features are mobile-friendly.

AddThis has a unique feature which shows various pop-ups to audiences. These pop-ups appear to visitors based on their interests and show them related posts and some recommendations they are likely to read.

You can also enable its inline feature where you can add social sharing buttons inside the paragraphs of your content. This tactic reminds viewers and may increase the chances of readers sharing your content.

AddThis is easy to use and offers a simple dashboard that’s easy to navigate even for beginners. If you want to know what your metrics are, you can export and analyze your blog’s social performance through their tool.

They offer a basic and free plan but you will get more added features if you avail one of their pro plans.

3. Sumo

Sumo is one of the top marketing tools that offer a holistic approach to help you grow your website.

Its drag-and-drop setup is so easy so even if you install this on the first day of your blogging days, you won’t have a problem.

It also has a widget that can show the most popular content on your blog based on the share counts. This urges your readers to read the trending posts on your blog.

One unique feature of Sumo is its highlighter. This lets your readers highlight any texts on your content and share it on their social media profiles. This feature is useful if you use quotes and short phrases that are shareable.

Sumo also has smart buttons where they optimize which sharing options are most effective on each different pages on your blog. For example, if your post is more popular on Twitter, then Twitter gets to be on top of the other buttons.

The pro version provides more features such as UTM tracking, ability to remove branding, and a top-of-the-line support.

4. Buffer

buffer

Buffer’s unique social sharing tool makes social media management a breeze with its powerful automation.

They also have a feature called Buffer Button where your users can schedule their own shares through their own Buffer accounts. This is useful for bloggers alike who want to share your posts at any schedule they prefer.

The offer a free plan that is already perfect if you’re only managing one or two different social accounts but if you need more you can always upgrade to their pro and business plans where you can manage over 25 social media accounts and get added features.

5. AddToAny

AddToAny is a lightweight tool that integrates well with Google Analytics. AddToAny ties all the metrics it received and mirror it on your Google Analytics dashboard. This is helpful if you want to keep your analytics tacked in one place.

Their icons are customizable so you can edit its colors and styles and add other custom integrations that match your blog’s branding. Also, they use Scalable Vector Graphics for their icons to make sure that their tool loads fast and won’t affect your blog’s loading speed.

Last, it enables you to activate a floating social sharing icons bar that is always present on every page of your blog.

This tool is easy to set up since there is no registration required to access its full potential.

Conclusion

Whichever tool you choose from the ones above will improve your blog’s post engagement little by little when done right.

Social media buttons fill the small gaps of your content and your marketing, however, remember not to overdo it. It’s obvious when you look desperate in trying to make your audience share your content and it might cause the opposite of what you intended to do.

A one or two easy-to-spot locations that sit before, in the middle, or at the end of your articles is enough. Remember that your social media buttons shouldn’t distract your audience’s reading experience.

While it looks like a small addition, using social sharing buttons provide high returns to your blog.

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16 Ways to Take Advantage of What Instagram Has to Offer

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Instagram is a visual wonderland, especially for brands. It’s an opportunity to attract more customers — particularly those belonging to the millennial and Gen Z demographics — and showcase the best of what you have to offer. Just take a look at some of the most followed Instagram accounts and you will see why and how the top brands in the world are taking advantage of what this social platform has to offer.

However, something we all know too well about social media, is that Instagram can also be a time suck if it isn’t leveraged correctly. You want the best of both worlds: being able to reap the benefits of Instagram without spending all of your time on it.

We asked members of Young Entrepreneur Council how to best leverage what Instagram has to offer while still staying true to your business.

1. Showcase Beautiful Photos

This seems simple, but it is easily forgotten. Instagram is for photos. Share great ones that are relevant to your brand and ones that your audience will appreciate and want to see. If your industry just isn’t something that can involve relevant photography, focus on another social platform that’s more fitting.

Jeff Cayley, Worldwide Cyclery

2. Use a Tool to Plan Photos in Advance

Use a tool such as Planoly, Plann or Later to batch plan your posts in advance so you can see how they look together visually on the grid. I also use Instagram Stories to show potential clients a peek behind the scenes on real projects so they feel more connected to our team before they start working with us.

Allie Siarto, Allie Siarto & Co. Photography

3. Find a Theme

Make sure your page has a consistent theme. When people land on a brand’s page, they should see content that looks uniform and planned. A person will make an instant decision on whether or not to follow your page based on if the aesthetics are worthwhile to show up in their feed. Use tools like preset Lightroom filters to give each photo a similar feel.

Bobby Palmieri, Lilo Social

4. Embrace Storytelling

Instagram Stories has become a powerful tool for storytelling, and even more so for activating your audience and driving sales. Get a business IG profile and organically earn 10k followers so that you can utilize links in your stories. If you’re creative, thoughtful and provide entertainment and value, you’ll reap the rewards. Don’t forget to make the posts visually stunning and interesting.

Scott Levy, Fuel Online

5. Create Photo-Friendly Spaces

Creating a few standard spaces you can reuse regularly will speed up your Instagram workflow, as well as help establish a brand feeling. You don’t need a professional studio, but a well-lit neutral wall or a corner table set up for product photography will make staging Instagram photos routine.

Thursday Bram, The Responsible Communication Style Guide

6. Be Original

Don’t copy the style and type of content used by other advertisers and influencers. Millennials and Gen Zers can sense when a brand is trying to appear hip and young and they will interpret it as trying too hard. Instead of following current trends, find your brand’s identity and stick to it.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

7. Find Your Target Audience

When building a professional Instagram page, it is paramount that you know who you are targeting, how to find them and what they want to see. Instagram can connect you with clients, potential employees and like-minded people who just want to enjoy your content. Make the decision of what Instagram will do for you and work toward that specific goal with every post.

Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

8. Include Up to 30 Hashtags

Instagram users love using hashtags to discover new content. Get additional visibility for each Instagram post by including up to 30 relevant hashtags on each post. Research these hashtags on a tool like WEBSTAGRAM or Keyhole. Then, once you identify hashtags with high volume and high relevancy, include them on posts to reach your target audience and attract new followers.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

9. Post Frequently

In order to stay relevant on social media, especially on Instagram, brands need to post frequently. One guru in the space who I follow, Gary Vaynerchuk, posts seven to eight times per day. I post at least once per day, but typically more. Also, be consistent with your imagery when posting on Instagram. Make sure to have a consistent look across the board.

Jean Ginzburg, Ginball Digital Marketing

10. Make It a Contest

Photo contests are a great way to engage with users on Instagram. Ask customers to post images, preferably ones using a new or promoted product, and have them tag it with a specific hashtag for the contest. Ask users to vote on their favorites and then pick a winner. A well-planned contest will build brand awareness and help you engage with new customers.

Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

11. Write Great Captions

Sure, Instagram is a visual platform, but the caption of your post says a lot, too. Also, be consistent when posting — especially because the new algorithm is not chronological anymore. Post more!

Andrew Namminga, Andesign

12. Be Human

Instagram photos that perform best showcase lifestyle stories, not static images. For example, when posting a product, have a smiling woman on a beautiful beach with her friends. Fans are more likely to relate or aspire to that image. That’s because Instagram was originally created to capture people’s lifestyles. It is an artistic platform on which people tend to interact with those who post happy, beautiful images of their daily lives.

Michael Hsu, DeepSky

13. Focus on the Customer Journey

The creative you use has to be based on the stages of the funnel. Is the ad focusing on awareness, consideration or decision? What will resonate most with your audience based on their buying stage? Use creative that resonates most with your audience’s buying stage and psychographics.

Marcela De Vivo, Brilliance

14. Boost Your Content With Ads

While Instagram is one of the best platforms for user engagement, your content may still get lost and not reach its full potential. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the photo or witty the caption if no one sees it. It’s worth investing some money into boosting a post via Instagram Ads to reach a larger audience and ensure relevant users are seeing it.

Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

15. Reach Out to Influencers

It can be a long, time-consuming process building up an engaged audience on Instagram. A quick and easy shortcut is to reach out to social media influencers who did the hard work for you by building up their own following. Finding a natural way to connect your service or product with their brand can be extremely effective and tremendously time saving.

Bryce Welker, Crush The LSAT

16. Showcase Authentic Moments

A reposted inspirational quote, a stock photo that’s been heavily edited and other images that are clearly not from where you live and work should be avoided. We see right through that stuff. Content that does best in terms of engagement is usually produced by you, imperfections and all.

Beck Bamberger, BAM Communications

The Future of Social Media and Your Brand

The writing is on the wall. SEO and desktop usage are making their way out the door. Social media and visual content is now king! Take the time to examine each of the expert tips and best practices, while also implementing them into your existing content creation and marketing efforts.

Also be sure to consider your options with automated social media marketing tools and how to start taking advantage of influencer marketing within your niche market. The better you tackle these

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