Turning Visitors Into Subscribers

Why Should I Set Up a Subscriber Opt-In System?

You want your business to be more successful. You want to make more money. And you want your customers to be more satisfied with your product and service offerings. What does this have to do with “Subscriber Opt-In?” A lot. A subscriber opt-in is the single most important item to put on your website if you want to make more money from that website in particular, and your business in general.

A website without an opt-in is like a poster on the wall in an empty building. You place some info out there on the internet and hope and pray that people who wander in will react positively – maybe even buy something. It’s basically a crapshoot. But there’s a better way.

A website with an opt-in is a salesperson who never sleeps. It’s out there working, gathering leads, kicking butt and taking names for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And when that salesperson is paired with other traffic-generating techniques, he turns into an entire team of sales and customer relations professionals.

Let’s just assume that you’re making an effort to drive traffic and visitors to your website. But if you’re not collecting contact information from those visitors, you’re wasting your time and money. Even if you’re not paying for traffic, in effect you’re stealing from yourself by not getting your visitors’ names and email addresses when they visit your site.

You see, when you gather your website visitors’ information, you can build email marketing campaigns that talk directly to them over time: Tell them when you’re having a sale. Show them how your quality is the best for the prices. Inform them of all the things you do to make your customers happy. You’ll be able to communicate with them again and again, and let them know that you value their patronage and will do everything in your power to make sure they’re satisfied with every transaction. Not only will you be able to make more sales, but you will also be able to build a quality, trusting relationship with your customers over time, and that is essential to doing business in this day and age.

If your competition has their website visitors’ information, they are beating you, plain and simple. They are talking to their customers in ways that you simply cannot. And you can bet your competition isn’t sitting still. They’re waiting in the wings to eat your lunch. Without an opt-in mechanism to continue the conversation with your customers, you’re leaving money on the table.

Are you ready to start a conversation with your customers? We’re going to tell you how in just a few easy steps.

What Is an Opt-In Mechanism?

It’s called Subscriber Opt-In, or “Permission-Based Marketing.” When set up correctly, it will enable you to get the names and email addresses of your website visitors, legally, transparently, and with their full permission. In fact, just the very fact that they “opted in” means that they actually WANT you to contact them!

Since you’ve read this far, we’ll assume you want to learn how to build a permission-based email subscriber list. That’s why you’re here.

You will need to get your visitors’ permission to send emails to them through a confirmation process known as a “double opt-in.” Before the new subscriber is added to your list, a confirmation email is sent asking the subscriber to confirm his/her intention to sign up by clicking on the link in the email message. If the link isn’t clicked, the address won’t be added. This is called a double opt-in.

What happens if you don’t get their permission? You will alienate them. They might decide to never do business with you, and tell all their friends not to do business with you.

When you do get their approval through the double opt-in, your potential subscribers will be more apt to open and read your emails. They will be more likely to have a good impression of you and your business, because you are providing them with something they can actually use.

Once you have their permission, don’t abuse it by over-selling. Give them content they can use, and sell them only occasionally. Provide a benefit to opening your emails by giving them stuff they can use, whether it’s information, discounts or helpful how-tos and tutorials.

What a Double Opt-In can prevent:

Double Opt-In prevents email addresses with typos from making it onto your list.

Double Opt-In prevents users from signing up (and getting the incentive) using bogus email addresses.

Double Opt-In helps prevent you from being reported as a spammer. Visitors who have opted in can still report your email as spam, but because you have their confirmation, you can readily defend yourself against any complaints.

• Double Opt-In slows down spam-bots from flooding your email list with bogus email addresses, and perhaps delivering a malicious script to your email system.

How do I get people to give me their permission? An incentive.

An incentive, or “ethical bribe,” should have a high perceived value to your prospects, but be inexpensive to produce and easy to distribute.

It should also contain (or be) something that can’t be found anywhere else.

Some ideas for incentives: A free report, free access to web content, a free service, a whitepaper, coupons, webcasts, podcasts, webinars, subscriber-only sales, or a downloadable e-book pdf.

The Opt-In Form

Every word of opt-in form should work toward getting people to subscribe. You will have a text area in which to put your sales messaging located just above the actual form.

Do basic audience research to discover who your audience is, talk to them in their own “voice” and address their wants and needs.

All you want is name and e-mail address.

To CAPTCHA or not to CAPTCHA? CAPTCHAs help prevent spambots from accessing your system, but they also inhibit actual real people from signing up. If you have extremely sensitive data that could potentially get accessed, you might want to use one. The mood among internet marketers right now is that they are easily thwarted, and stop people as much as prevent hacking.

Provide social proof that your future content is worth subscribing to. Already having solid content on your site is one form of proof.

Reassure visitors that you respect their privacy and will never share or sell their info.

Put your Privacy Policy either on your home page footer; or give access to it with a prominent link on your home page. There are ethical and legal reasons to do so. Here is a good example of a privacy policy you can modify for your purposes. [link]

Using MailChimp

First of all, don’t use webmail services (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) to send out emails. These services will detect that you are sending out bulk email, shut you down, and report you to the authorities.

We recommend using MailChimp. Why?

• MailChimp is free for small email campaigns.

• MailChimp does all of the behind-the-scenes work for you.

• MailChimp is easy to set up with a self-hosted WordPress site.

Here are the basic steps to set up MailChimp:

• Create an account with MailChimp.

• Create your first list in MailChimp. Name it to match the incentive, your website and brand, or you’re the series of emails you’ll be sending.

• Download and install the MailChimp WordPress Plug-In on your self-hosted WordPress installation. Make sure it’s the one created by MailChimp, not a third-party plug-in.

• Design your form in MailChimp. Remember to sell the incentive in the text area.

• Link the WP Plug-In (or if your WordPress Theme has a built-in subscription feature) with your MailChimp Account using your MailChimp API Key. Your online form and MailChimp account are now linked.

• Drag the MailChimp widget to the WP widget area, or have your web designer or web master insert the code into your site.

• Alter the widget to match your WordPress theme, or select a WordPress theme that looks good with the widget in place. Alternatively, you can use a theme that has a built-in subscription feature.

What Happens When a Visitor Opts In?

• When your visitor fills out the subscription form, MailChimp will show a “Success, you’ve been signed up! Please look for our confirmation email!” message right in the form.

• When the visitor goes to their email and clicks on the link in the confirmation email (the one you previously set up in MailChimp), they will be sent to the “Subscription Confirmed” page that MailChimp created based on the information you provided when you opened your MailChimp account.

• On the Subscription Confirmed page, visitors are presented with a “continue to our website” button where you can embed a link (in Your MailChimp setup) to a special landing page, or have them land by default back on your home page. If you have set up a special area for confirmed visitors to land (possibly as part of your incentive package) this will be the way to do it. Confirmed subscribers can also manage their preferences via a link on this page, including changing their profile information and unsubscribing.

Pitfalls to Avoid

Once you have built up a list of subscribers, don’t be an idiot and sell it. First of all, nothing you do on the internet can be kept secret very long. Why on Earth would you want to sell your carefully cultivated, loving curated, and extremely valuable list of customers, who gave you their permission to receive emails from your business, for a mere pittance of fifty cents a name? It’s insanity. You will regret it. Don’t do it.

Not convinced? Here’s another reason why you should never sell your list: You can be fined up to $11,000 for EACH AND EVERY VIOLATION of the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. How many names are on your list? Do the math. [Link to listing of violations?]

For the same reason, do not buy, beg, borrow, steal, or otherwise procure email lists. MailChimp is really, really smart software. It won’t let you import lists. And if you attempt to manually add contacts through your own opt-in mechanism (which would be impractical and pure insanity), eventually one of those people will flag you as a spammer.

What happens when you’re flagged as a spammer? Ever had a root canal? Multiply that by ten thousand, and then add the Chinese Water Torture, and you’re starting to get the picture. Seriously, you don’t want this pain. You’ll be forced to provide the following information: The IP address that the opt-in came from. The page that the visitor came from before they opted in. The time-stamp for when they opted in. The particular offer they opted in for. And so forth. It’s like marathon teeth-pulling session and you’re the pull-ee. You just don’t want anything to do with this sort of torture.

Let MailChimp do all of the email sending and email list management work for you until you better understand the ins and outs of managing email lists and campaigns. Even then, MailChimp has a robust tool set for you to use.

 

More Thoughts On Managing Your Facebook Page for Business

Who Really Is Your Target Market?

If you know who your audience is, then it is much easier to craft your selling messages. But who is really buying your stuff?

Lots of business owners and managers have an inkling as to who their audience is, but haven’t spent the time to really explore exactly who it is they are selling to, and, more importantly, why they should buy.

Simply saying, “We sell to anyone who wants to buy from us” is not enough. Without getting into the whole business of market research and focus groups, I think there are several easy and free ways to get a better insight into who your target audience is, and what you can do to make an emotional connection with them.

Ask your sales people. Your sales force is out there every day dealing with customers.

Ask customer service. Like sales, customer service people are your “boots on the ground.” They have a deep insight into what categories your customers fall.

These efforts will help you decide how to craft your Facebook update messages to speak directly to that person, and create an emotional connection with them so that they feel comfortable spending their hard-earned money with your company.

Plan for Success.

Create a comprehensive plan, or posting calendar, or whatever you want to call it. Put it in a master spreadsheet. This will be your road map.

Set up a ‘Social Media Desktop’ in iGoogle, My Yahoo!, or NetVibes. Delete all widgets except for the RSS feeds from your Social Media efforts (not just Facebook).

Research your audience. Look for online communities that your customers would be likely to be involved with, and visit or join to get a handle on what they’re talking about and etc.

Invite your email contacts to “Like” your page. Don’t spam them. Write a friendly, personal note.

Ask your personal Facebook friends to “Like” your page and recommend it to their friends.

Link all of your other social media pages to your Facebook Page. Promote your page on those sites as well.

More Good Ideas:

Create Events on your Facebook Page.

Put a Facebook widget on your sites and blogs.

Cross-pollinate. Use your blog and website to promote “Likes” on your Facebook Page.

Try to discover what ‘voice’ you want to use for your business. Write great posts on a regular basis. Write up content ahead of time and trickle out to your fans. Post manually if possible. Auto-posting is frowned upon by Facebook’s algorithm.

Decide what writing style your business falls under: hip? Technological leader? Hard working, rugged? Outdoorsy? Fashion-Forward?

Give fans an open forum. Encourage and facilitate collaboration with your audience.

Be unique. Remember Facebook users statistically have connections to at least 60 other pages, so you’ll need to stand out.

The Richer The Media, The Deeper The Engagement.

Use links, photos, and videos to deepen fan engagement.

Create value for your Facebook fans: Write how-tos for your products and services. Provide resources, discounts, coupons, events, and news; in short, anything that adds value to the relationship with your fans. Don’t sell in your updates; let your products page handle the selling.

Write posts to your Blog, then copy the URL to your Facebook Page, or use a linking service like Networked Blogs to connect your blog to Facebook and other social media.

Encourage Comments from Your Fans.

Deal with negative feedback quickly and be nice.

Create special, “web-only” value-added content: Coupons, Tips & Tricks, Videos, Instant Prizes, Contests, Events, and Special Offers, etc.

Leverage your current marketing. Put Facebook Like, Recommend, or Share buttons on your existing websites and blogs.

Put “Find Us On Facebook” icons on your business cards, signs, ads, and point of sale materials.

Don’t use an auto-posting program. Facebook’s algorithm doesn’t look favorably on third-party posts and penalizes them over manual posts.

Attract Your Audience.

Leverage your existing friends from your personal FB Profile. Have your staff do the same. After 25 “Likes” you can customize your Page name.

Encourage physical check-ins at your business with Foursquare and Facebook. Offer coupons or special events for Fans who check in on their Facebook page using Foursquare.

Do some traditional advertising. Put the Facebook logo on your business cards, in your print advertising, your print brochures, menus, handouts… every piece of advertising and promotional material that goes out should have your “Find Us on Facebook” messaging on it.

No matter what your attitude is about Facebook, it’s clear that it’s here to stay. And like it or not, you’re going to have to include Facebook and other social media into your marketing mix.

So Just Do It Already!

 

Put a Facebook Page in Your Marketing Playbook

Part 1: How to Set Up and Customize Your Facebook Page

First, Create Your Facebook Page

Chances are you already have a personal Facebook Profile. We’re here to talk about Facebook Pages. Pages are for businesses, organizations, public figures, and corporations. They’re way more powerful than profiles. If Facebook Profiles are roman candles, Facebook Pages are howitzers.

But you have to set your page up before you can enjoy the marketing blast from those big guns. Here’s the tutorial for setting up your Facebook Page, straight from the folks at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/learn.php

As you may have noticed during setup, if the name you’ve chosen for your Page is already taken, Facebook suggests an alternate username. Go ahead and accept that one for now.

[SIDEBAR 1:] MORE ABOUT FACEBOOK USER NAMES: This username appears after the ‘facebook.com’ to make up a unique URL for your new Page.  You only have one shot at creating the right username/URL, so you may want to wait until after you’ve gotten your feet wet to change it. If you want to change your username at this point, go here: http://www.facebook.com/username, or click on the ‘Edit Info’ link on the Get Started Page, just make sure the one you choose is easy to remember and fits within your overall brand message. I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you to hold off for now.

Get Out Your Branding Iron

Okay. You’ve walked yourself through the set up process, and have your basic Facebook page up and running. Now it’s time to customize it for your business and brand.

Let’s start with the Profile Picture. This is your opportunity to blend your tagline with your logo. A tagline is basically a slogan or a brand statement. Here’s wikipedia’s take: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tagline

Currently the best example of a truly global tagline is McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It.”

It may seem like a hassle to worry about taglines right now, (I know you’re anxious to get started) but writing a tagline now will help you put yourself into the creative mindset you’ll need to be in when you start posting content on your Facebook Page. So Just Do It.
Here’s a nice tutorial on the creating a tagline from our friends at Copyblogger: http://www.copyblogger.com/create-a-tagline

Now for the Profile Picture. Maximum size for this baby is 180 pixels by 540 pixels. Pixels? Well, they’re the little tiny color squares that make up your computer monitor… oh, never mind.

[SIDEBAR 2:] A QUICK TAKE ON LOGOTYPES: Hold on. Waitaminute. No logo? Curses. Hopefully you already know what a logo is. Just in case you don’t, (what rock have you been hiding under?) here’s wikipedia’s definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logotype.

If you don’t have a logo, as the old story goes, have your kid do one for you. Have a starving art student do one for you. Head over the 99 Designs and have several crowdsourced for you. Or try this online resource for creating your own logotype: http://www.logomaker.com.
If you have Adobe PhotoShop (and know how to use it), you’re ready to start creating the perfect profile picture. If you don’t have PhotoShop, you can download the free, open-source image editor GIMP, from gimp.org. GIMP has an excellent help tutorial built in, and here’s an online series of how-tos: gimp.org/tutorials.

Use whichever image editor one you prefer, as long as it can manipulate type so you can set up your tagline.

Open a new document and set it up at 180px by 300px in RGB mode. You can set the height to as much as 540px (Facebook’s limitation), but that might push your navigation tabs below the fold, which is bad from a usability standpoint (Don’t even get me started on usability!). Either way, you’re going to want to create several finished files, each with different image heights, so that you can test them on your newly minted page.

Drop your logo into the new untitled document, create a background or gradient, and add your tagline. Try to make it look cool. Interesting. Compelling. Above all, make it reflect the personality of your business.

Click on the generic profile picture on your new page, and upload your kick-butt new branding image. Very nice.

Visit the Photo Strip Mall.

You’ve seen them before – that line of photos that runs across the top of the page. Upload at least five photos or images that highlight your sales message. The images should (but don’t have to) fit together horizontally. Facebook randomizes their placement every time the page loads, so get creative.

Use product shots, staff photos, your headquarters, hot cars, puppy dogs… whatever it takes to make your page cool, funky, buttoned-down, sweet, fashionable, rugged, or whichever adjective applies. Another cool thing: when you upload more than 5 images, your visitors will get a slideshow of your branding story when they click on one of the photos.

Don’t Be All Thumbs with Your Profile Thumbnail.

Don’t forget to optimize your Page Thumbnail so that your logo fits and is legible. Facebook crops your Profile Picture, but you can at least change the placement of the crop. Here’s how: edit page > profile picture > edit thumbnail.

Remember your thumbnail shows on every one of your updates, so make sure the important parts show through and can be easily read. If you can’t make it work, go back to your image editor, readjust your main image, re-upload, and try again.

Yay! You’ve got a basic Facebook Page set up for your business.

[SIDEBAR 3:] WE’RE JUST GETTING STARTED. We will handle Facebook content creation and page maintenance in an upcoming post, in which we will discuss creating an editorial calendar, finding your voice, engaging your audience and etc. So stay tuned for that.

Organize Your Tab Navigation

Tab Navigation is the section on the left hand side of your Facebook page. It’s where the built-in Facebook Apps reside – Photos, Video, Links, Events, Notes, and Questions.

Once you begin to acquire, create, and upload custom apps they will be listed here.

Don’t Neglect the ‘About’ Section

Think of this as the ‘elevator pitch’ for your business. Keep it short and to the point. Above all, use this section to tell fans why they should be part of your Facebook fan community. You can also add links here.

I Like It: Featured Likes

Featured Likes are a great way to cross-pollinate your web properties. You can highlight other FB Pages you own, partner pages, affiliate pages, vendor pages, or any other Pages you’d like. Simply use your Page to ‘Like’ other Pages, and then click on the ‘Edit Page’ tab. You’ll see your Likes listed. Select the ones you would like to Feature and then hit the Add Featured Likes button. Done. You can Feature as many as you’d like, with five being shown randomly at each page load.

What Will People See When they Visit My New Page?

Wait a minute. The savviest among you are wondering… Why haven’t we mentioned custom landing tabs?

Create Your Very Own Landing Zone with Apps

Like any well thought out website, your Facebook Page should have a special landing page (or Tab in Facebook parlance) created with the use of third-party apps. (You can have as many apps as you want on your page.)

The are generally two flavors of landing tabs. The Landing or Welcome Tab is a simple tab that takes prospective fans straight to your wall after they hit the ‘Like’ button. The Reveal Tab usually gives the impression of being transparent, with the content underneath revealed only after the visitor hits the ‘Like’ button. Reveal Tabs are like a one-two punch, with two opportunties to get your message out.

[SIDEBAR 4:] THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT: To learn how to manage your Facebook and third-party apps, go straight to the source, Facebook’s Help Center:  https://www.facebook.com/help/?page=121359044613137

Your custom landing tab (or welcome tab) is the place where new visitors land before they “Like” your page and become a fan. Many of the biggest players (Subway, Pepsi, McDonald’s) have created incredibly cool and awesome landing tabs. Remember that if you have already ‘Liked’ one of these pages you will NOT see the custom landing tab. Those are strictly for new visitors.

Brainstorm Your Way to a Better Landing Tab.

Research:
See what the big boys are up to. Look at top Facebook pages from Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Dell, Frito-Lay, Monster Energy Drinks, Pillsbury… as many as you can think of.

Note their use of profile pictures, the photo strip, and landing tab. Write down what you liked, what you thought worked, and what you think might be a good fit for your business. Spend a little bit of time lurking on their pages. Click on some of the tabs in the tab navigation window. Read their ‘About’ statements. Drink it all in, because these pages are everything you aspire for your page.

Sketch out some ideas for your landing tab, based on your research. Try to entertain, entice, or otherwise create urgency so that your visitors will want to ‘Like’ your page to see more.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The real reason for looking at big company pages is so that can answer the following question: What you offer to your visitors (potential Fans) to entice them to click the all-important ‘Like’ Button?

Plan:
What do you want your visitors to see when they land? (Remember we’re talking default landing tabs for visitors who haven’t liked your page yet.) Do you want to promote a monthly special? Do you want to push your hero product? Highlight your latest charity effort? What will make your visitors push that all-important ‘Like’ button?

Execute.
After you’ve sketched out your ideas, log on to one of the a app-creation websites below and start building on your vision. Have your photos or illustrations at hand in an easily browsable folder or directory.

Create several tabs and publish them to your Facebook page. Once you have several loaded up, you can delete, add them to your Favorites, and make one of them your default landing tab.

Another tip: You could create the bulk of the landing tab in your image editor and upload that as a single image.

Don’t forget you can always remove tabs that you didn’t like or didn’t meet your expectations.

Try Out These App Creation Tools:

All of the following require a little artistic flair, but can be utilized without a knowledge of computer coding.

Customizer by Gro Social – Free, Pro, Premium and White Label drag n drop tab creators.

Nice suite of free tab-building tools. Fairly easy to use. Upgrade to get the really awesome tools.

Wix.com has flash-based templates for custom Facebook landing tabs.

Northsocial.com has a complete suite of very affordable apps for creating custom Facebook Pages. Northsocial is not free. But they have a great selection of Facebook apps for every purpose, not just landing tabs. One price unlocks an entire suite of apps.

Pagemodo lets you create a free custom landing tab for your FB Fan Page. Brought to you by the same company that makes Basecamp.

That’s It for Now

I hope we were able to provide you with some real-world, kick booty, actionable items that give get the confidence to go forth building your fan base with Facebook.

Good luck and continued success,

Rich Fisher

PS: Share your Facebook Page success stories (and not-so-success stories) with me.

PPS: Next time we’ll get into Facebook deeper and tell you how to begin attracting fans to your shiny new Facebook Page.

 

Monetize Facebook?

Host And Post, Baby!
(or How to Set Up Facebook Page Branding and F-Commerce)

First you’ll need to create a Facebook Page if you haven’t already.

Here’s a great tutorial, straight from the folks at Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/learn.php

Once you have your Facebook page set up, you’ll want to customize it for your business and brand.

Get Out Your Branding Iron

Now you’re going to want to fix up your new page with your branding.
Let’s start with the Profile Picture.

This is your opportunity to blend your tagline with your logo.

If you’re not sure what a ‘tagline’ is, a perfect example is McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It.” Create one for your business if you haven’t already.

Maximum size for your Profile Picture is 180 pixels by 540 pixels. Pixels? Well, they’re the little tiny color squares that make up your computer monitor… oh, never mind.

If you have Adobe PhotoShop (and know how to use it), you’re all set. If you don’t have PhotoShop, you can download the free, open-source image editor GIMP, from gimp.org. GIMP has an excellent help tutorial built in if you need to familiarize yourself with the interface.

There are many more free resources for image editing. If you already have an image editor you’re familiar with, excellent. Use whichever one you prefer, as long as it can manipulate type so you can set up your tagline.

Open a new document and set it up at 180px by 300px in RGB mode. You can set the height to as much as 540px (Facebook’s limitation), but that might push your navigation tabs below the fold, which is bad from a usability standpoint (Don’t even get me started on usability!). Anyway, you’re going to want to create several files, each with different image heights.

Drop your logo into the new untitled document, create a background or gradient, and add your tagline. Try to make it look cool. Interesting. Compelling. Above all, make it reflect the personality of your business.

The Photo Strip Tease.

In Facebook it’s called the Photo Strip. It’s that line of photos that runs across the top of the page. Upload at least five photos or images that highlight your sales message. The images should (but don’t have to) fit together horizontally. Facebook randomizes their placement every time the page loads, so get creative.

Use product shots, staff photos, your headquarters, hot cars, puppy dogs… whatever it takes to make your page cool, funky, buttoned-down, sweet, fashionable, rugged, or whichever adjective applies. Another cool thing: when you upload more than 5 images, your visitors will get a slideshow of your branding story when they click on one of the photos.

Don’t Be All Thumbs with Your Profile Thumbnail.

Don’t forget to optimize your Profile Thumbnail so that your logo fits and is legible. Facebook crops your Profile Picture, but you can at least change the placement of the crop. Here’s how: edit page > profile picture > edit thumbnail.

Remember your thumbnail shows on every one of your updates, so make sure the important bits show through and can be easily read. If you can’t make it work, go back to your image editor, readjust your main image, re-upload, and try again.

Okay. You’ve got a basic Facebook Page set up for your business.

[SIDEBAR 1:] We will handle Facebook content creation and page maintenance in an upcoming post, in which we will discuss creating an editorial calendar, finding your voice, engaging your audience and etc. So stay tuned for that.

Featured Likes

Featured Likes are a great way to cross-pollinate your web properties. You can highlight other Facebook Pages you own, partner pages, affiliate pages, vendor pages, or any pages your little heart desires. Simply use your Page to ‘Like’ other Pages, and then click on the ‘Edit Page’ tab. You’ll see your Likes listed. Select the ones you would like to Feature and then hit the Add Featured Likes button. Done. You can feature as many as you’d like, with 5 (similar to the Photo Strip) being shown randomly at each page load.

Huh? I Want My Landing Tab!

Wait a minute. The savviest among you are wondering… Why haven’t we mentioned custom landing (Reveal) tabs? Carry on, gentle reader…

F-Commerce? What the Heck Is That?  

Facebook, Monetized. That’s what it is. (Yay!)

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he’s here to tell you that you can now put a virtual storefront right into your Facebook Page.

[SIDEBAR 2:] At the time of this posting there are many methods of creating a storefront on a Facebook Page, but we’re hesitant to put them all into a single blog post. So… I’m going to turn you on to one that’s super-easy, and FREE: Payvment (payvment.com). All you need is a Facebook Page, a PayPal account, Payvment, and, um, goods, merchandise, swag, or stuff to sell. Boom.

You were wondering about that Reveal Tab? Well, besides turning your FB Page into a profit center, Payvment builds a custom landing tab for you automatically. Hot diggedity dog.

Technical Jargon Alert: the Payvment app couples the PayPal API with Payvment’s shopping cart, enabling users (you) to sell directly on their (your) Facebook page.

Good News Alert: It’s absolutely, awesomely FREE. Of course there are also two paid plans (Premium and Platinum), but Payvment vows on their website that the Standard package will always remain free. Commissions? Nope.

They’ve even got a Payvment Open platform for developers.

Shipping options are covered as well. When the time comes that you’re overwhelmed with shipping products yourself, Payvment comes integrated with Shipwire for inventory storage and order fulfillment. All in all, it’s a pretty sweet package.

Too good to be true?

Let’s hope not. Here’s some of the buzz this new software is creating:

http://www.fastcompany.com/1779181/f-commerce-is-the-new-black?partner=gnews

http://appbistro.com/products/shop-now

http://sellitontheweb.com/blog/payvment-providing-e-commerce-storefronts-on-facebook/

Ready to get started? Let’s light this candle.

Okay, navigate your browser to payvment.com and follow the directions.

It’s really that easy.

We could, of course, completely re-write the instructions here, but somehow that doesn’t seem prudent or expedient. Plus, they have a set-up wizard that takes you by the hand and does everything for you. No kidding.

After you’ve set up your initial storefront, you’re going to have to add your products, so have that information (and images) at hand as well. Luckily, they have step-by-step instructions for that too.

Done. Now just sit back and watch the cash roll in. Well maybe not. You’ve still got to get the traffic (another blog post, another time!). But at least they’ll have something to buy when they show up, not just look at your kitten pictures.

Happy Selling in the new F-Commerce Universe,

Rich Fisher

rich@richfishermarketing.com

PS: Share your success stories (and not-so-success stories) with us! We would love to hear from you.

 

Spruce Up Your Websites for the Holidays

The holidays are fast approaching, but it’s not too late to do a few last-minute tasks to keep your sites running smoothly.

1. Make a List and Check It Twice

The holiday season is a great time to re-think your overall website or blogging goals and strategies, and re-focus yourself on getting more done in general. How?

Write down some ideas and put them into action. If you’re into photography, show how to take better holiday photos. Cooking? Holiday entertaining and recipes. Family blog? Your plans for the season, with promises to post some pictures of the little ones. Pets? How to keep them healthy and safe in cold weather. The possibilities are endless, just put on your thinking cap!

The point is to gather up some ideas, create the content, and get it on the web.

2. Put On Your Holiday Best

If you’re promoting your business, running an affiliate site, or selling online, there are tons of things you can do to keep your site rocking through the holidays.

Here are a few ideas to you get started:

If you haven’t already, add some holiday graphics and copy to your site. Get your visitors in the holiday shopping mood with a little sprucing up. You could even do a special holiday version of your logo – the Google Doodle is a perfect example. Just don’t go overboard.

If you have affiliate relationships, the holiday season is an excellent time to ensure everything is working behind the scenes so you’re not missing out on any click-through business. It’s no fun to have something go wrong that was preventable by performing a little detail work.

3. Don’t Be Anti-Social

The holiday season is the perfect time to increase your presence on social media. If you’re not already supplementing new content on your sites with tweets and posts to Facebook, then you’re missing out on potential new business.

Create a social media calendar, complete with topics for each FB post and tweet. Some ideas include:

  • Highlight your charity efforts and invite fans to join you in giving to the charity of their choice.
  • Put social media sharing buttons next to your product pages so your customers can share the products they love with their friends.
  • Offer one-day-only coupons or special offers (Order before midnight!).
  • Ask your fans or followers to post photos or videos of them using their newly purchased products or family/friends opening their gifts.

4. Put the Commerce Back in E-Commerce:

Offer a “January Discount” to visitors who make purchases in December. Bounce back coupons are a great way to keep your customers engaged after the holidays are over.

Organize your products by price. Choose several price points and create special pages for each with an easy path to checkout.

Organize products by gift recipient: Gifts for Moms, for example. Organize them further by price to create an easy solution for the busy shopper.

Don’t forget stocking stuffers. A page of low-priced, unique, last-minute gifts is always a great draw. You could even combine products into gift baskets, bundles, or box sets.

Build trust and credibility by putting warranties, guarantees, shipping details and return/exchange policies on product pages and shopping cart pages. These strategies also help reduce shopping cart abandonment.

Offer gift receipts and personalized messages on packing slips. Give customers the option to include a holiday message card inside the shipping box.

5. Do A Background Check on Your Site

Have someone you trust do an audit of your site. Have them look for typos, pricing errors, bad links, outdated products, anything that looks out of place, or any other details you or your team may have missed.

Have someone mystery shop your site. There are services for this, but a trusted friend or family member can do it just as effectively. Have them place an order, get it shipped, return it, talk to customer service (even if it’s you) and give you a complete report on how well you did, all in complete secrecy. You might be surprised.

Double-check your domain renewals, SSL certificates, merchant accounts, and other important behind-the-scenes details to make sure everything is up to date and ready to handle the holiday sales rush.

The holidays are a busy time for everyone. But with a little work, you can make sure your websites are the best they can be.

The only thing left to do is get started!

 

Plan Ahead with .ME and .NAME

CREATE A PERSONAL ONLINE IDENTITY

Now that the dot coms are pretty much all taken, what can you do when you want to create a personal online identity for yourself, your children or grand children?

Register dot name and dot me domain names. Let’s face it, almost every name combination (actually almost every single word in the English language) is already registered as a dot com (or dot net). It’s extremely difficult to register someone’s name as a dot com unless they have an very unique combination of first and last names.

With dot name and dot me domains, you have the opportunity to create a unique online presence keyed to your name. Plus, there are literally thousands of combinations still available – but they’re going fast, the same way the dot coms did back in the late 1990s, when enterprising companies and individuals learned there was money to be made.

Like real estate, domain names continually increase in value, so the time to act is now. At the rate dot name and dot me domains are getting registered, by the time your child or grandchild reaches the age when they may become interested in using their own unique domain name, it may be too late.

GREAT FOR KIDS

The time to get a dot name or dot me for a child is just before or after they’re born. At first you don’t have to put a website up, but soon you’ll want to create a site for the new baby. You’ll only get a trickle of traffic, mostly from friends and family. It’s probably best to register the new domain with privacy protection, and don’t post too much personal information.

It’s a great investment for a child, as it can start out as a baby album, turn into an academic and awards showplace as they get into middle school, and become a career tool as they go into high school and college.

And with WordPress, it’s quick and easy to set up a blog, so that your child will learn the basics of website development and maintenance at an early age, putting them at a big advantage when the time comes to start their careers.

GREAT FOR ADULTS, TOO

Personalize your web. Get you own name as a dot name or dot me. It’s great for showing off your whatever you’re into. Maybe you’re a photographer; a dot name would be a great way to display your work. Are you into cars? Boats? Pets? Arts and crafts? Cooking? Decorating? Gardening? Show off your stuff. Do you volunteer? Tell your friends about it.

PROMOTE YOURSELF AS AN EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD

Dot name and dot me domain names can be a great adjunct to your professional life as well. If you’re a doctor, you can use your website to talk about your specialty. If you’re an engineer, you can showcase your latest creation. Architect? Artist? A dot name or dot me is a perfect place to show off your chops and add credibility to your resume.

Plus, you can link your dot name or dot me with your Facebook and Google+ accounts, and your company website. They’re the perfect way to show a more personal side to your business self.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Every second, 70+ new domains are registered. Don’t be left out in the cold. Get your dot name and dot me domains today.

 

 

Tips for Getting Your Business Site Ranked in Local Search

Why Local?

According to Google, 20% of desktop search is local, and 40% of mobile search is local. In other words, search has replaced the good old-fashioned yellow pages. When someone wants to find out where a business is located and what the phone number is, they look it up on Google, Bing or Yahoo!. And 80% of people who do a local search follow it up with an action. Impressive numbers, indeed.

If you sell to people in your city or town, you definitely want to be the site that comes up first, second or third in search when your customers look for products and services in your category.

To achieve this lofty, yet accessible goal, you want to get your business name on as many sites as possible. This will not only increase the number of backlinks to your site, but also increase the number of ‘citations.’ Citations are mentions of your site on other webpages, even if there is no backlink to your site associated with that mention. Search engines take these mentions very seriously, so get your business (and site) listed in as many places as possible to rise in the rankings.

Get Ready to Rumble

Before you begin, create a new email address and a new, strong password that you will use as login credentials for all of your listings. Keep these credentials in a safe place. Using one set of logins for all of your listings makes it easier when the time comes to change something – a phone number, for example.

Make a short list of keywords to use in your profiles and listings; including your city, your business name, and several descriptors of the types of products and services you offer. Create a brief description (a short sales pitch) of your business, including your location and other pertinent details. Keep it handy in a text document for easy copying and pasting.

Create Business Profiles on these Sites First

Google Places – As you already know, Google rules search, and they have provided an excellent service for local business: Google Places. If you don’t already have one, create a Google account. This will serve as your login for all your search optimization activities with Google. In fact, your Google account will serve as your main point of contact for all things Google.

Login to Google Places with your new or existing Google account, and follow the directions. Put in your company name, address, phone number and website. Next, choose your business category, hours of operation, and payment options. Add a logo and a photo of your location, especially if you’re in the retail trade. You can even provide a link to a video you’ve uploaded to your company’s YouTube account.

Submit and wait for your verification card. Google sends a PIN via old-fashioned snail mail, which is actually kind of nice because it means that no one can hijack your listing without a lot of work.

Yahoo! Local – Completing this directory listing is virtually the same procedure as with Google Local. Create a Yahoo! account. Fill out your directory listing, wait for verification. Yahoo! may not be as big as Google anymore, but it’s still essential.

Bing Business Portal – Here again, the procedure is the same. Bing is the smallest of the big three search engines, but growing. And they’re part of Microsoft, so you know they’re not going away any time soon.

Facebook Places – You probably already have a personal Facebook page. You need one for your business too. In fact you should create a Facebook Page and a Facebook Place for your business. First you’ll need the Facebook Places app for your smartphone. Download the app and create your a Facebook Place for your business. Next you’ll need to ‘claim’ it. After claiming it and verifying it with FB, you can even merge the two to create and even more powerful FB presence for your business.

Think you’re done? We’re just getting started.

List Your Business in Web Directories

Web directories are a great way to increase backlinks and citations, which will increase your search ranking locally. Make sure you include the sales pitch you wrote up previously in each listing. Remember to monitor reviews and comments on your listings and respond in kind especially to negative ones. Here’s a list of free directories on which to put your business info:

CitySearch.com – Create an account and submit your business listing.

Yelp.com – Yelp is a business directory with crowd-sourced reviews. Create an account and input your business info. You will have to verify your account via email confirmation.

Manta.com – Manta is an excellent directory for small business. While it’s not generally a yellow-pages type of site, Manta will give your website a trusted backlink, and put your listing in front of thousands of other business owners. It’s also an excellent source of articles and tips on everything from marketing to managing employees.

Best Of The Web Local – Sign up for a free JumpStart Business Listing.

Super Pages – Look for the “Add or Edit a Business” in the website’s footer.

Merchant Circle – Over 1.6 million local merchants have made this one of the leading local business directories. Signing up is easy and free.

Insider Pages – Another crowd-sourced review site. You know the drill: create and account, sign in, and put your listing on their site.

Info USA – Look for the “Update My Listing” link on the site’s footer.

yp.com – Also known as yellowpages.com. It’s free to put your listing in this AT&T-backed directory site. Look for the “Advertise With Us” link in the header.

HotFrog.com – Another great business directory. Look for the “Add Your Business” button in the site’s footer.

Create Social Media Pages for Your Business

Facebook – As stated previously, create a Facebook Page and Facebook Place for your business. Add “Like,” “Share,” or “Recommend” buttons to your website. Add the Facebook logo to your signage and printed materials. There’s more to marketing on FB than we can cover here.

Google+ for Business – Use your newly minted Google account to create a Google+ page for your business. Add Google+ badges to your website. Google+ is just gaining traction, but is already a force to be reckoned with.

LinkedIn – Create a LinkedIn profile for your business. Create and join groups related to your industry. Sprinkle your profile with keywords so you rank higher in LinkedIn’s internal search.

YouTube – If you have any promotional videos, create a YouTube account and post them there. Then you can link your YouTube account back to your website.

Twitter – Create a Twitter account and aggregate all of your blog posts, Facebook posts, and Google+ posts so that they stream on Twitter. You may not get a million followers, but you’ll get a juicy backlink from Twitter to your business website.

Do a Little SEO on Your Business Website

Make sure your company’s name, address and phone number are on every page of your website. You can put it in the header or footer. Use an accepted format for these so the search engine spiders will recognize and record it as business name, address, and phone number, and make sure it’s the same format you’ve used for your profiles and listings.

Put buttons for all of your social media pages on your site. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ should all be featured after every article or post.

Put the same business description you created for your profiles and listings in your Meta Description section of your site. Use the same snippet of text so that when multiple returns from your site show up in search, customers will know they are all from your business.

Make sure you have Contact Us, About Us, and News pages on your site and cross-link them. Also make sure the information on each is consistent. Search loves in-site links and consistent, relevant information.

More Tips for the Real World

Join your local Chamber of Commerce. Why? Usually you can get a link on their website or membership directory. Chamber websites have a lot of ‘trust’ with search, so backlinks from those sites carry a lot of weight with search engines. Plus, you can announce on your home page that you’re a proud member of the local Chamber.

Partner with other local businesses. Reach out to owners of ancillary businesses and offer to exchange links with them. A rising tide lifts all boats in the harbor.

You’re Now Ready to Dominate Local Search

It took a little work, but it was worth it, right? However, this list is far from complete. For example, there are hundreds more directories you can explore, and many more social media sites upon which you can create a presence for your business. Once you’ve gotten your feet wet completing these tasks, feel free to explore the many other possibilities out there. Just get out there and crush it!

 

Email Marketing Launch Plan Diagram

Here’s a diagram of an email (and other media) Launch Plan I’ve been working on. It involves creating ‘Thought Leaders’ who will create quality informational content, and use that content to build credibility through online videos, blogs, FB pages, and Twitter to build buzz and create an atmosphere of excitement around the actual launch of the informational product. I can’t get specific about any of the players, but I thought the diagram was a nice show piece.

Launch Plan Diagram

Info Product Launch Plan Diagram