Archives for August 2013

7 Must Have Plugins For Starting A Blog

 

With all of the plugins for bloggers it can be tough to decide which ones are essential for your blog. If you’re starting a blog or looking to improve your blog this post should be right up your alley.  Fact, if you have to many plugins installed it can hurt your blogs loading time and negatively affect your blogs accessibility.  Before you go and install a million plugins I have composed a list of 7 of the most essential plugins that you need for your blog.

Commenting System 

If you’re going to run a blog you have to have a commenting system.  Preferably, not just the default one that comes from WordPress.  Different commenting systems have unique functions which combat spam, engage readers, etc.

CommentLuv

CommentLuv

CommentLuv is a premium WordPress plugin that is the most popular one amongst bloggers today.  For me I like using this plugin because when I comment on others blogs I can leave a link back to one of my recent post.  This works great when I run a giveaway or something, and want to get the word out to as many people as possible.

Disqus

Disqus

Disqus is a popular free plugin that works on an API.  Simply put, you can import your comments with Disqus and even back them up in case something happens and you lose all your comments.  One thing I do like about Disqus is the comments are SEO friendly and Google indexes them.  This is great and some plugins that run on Javascript are actually bad for SEO, because they don’t tell Google that a page has been updated with fresh content.

LiveFry

Livefyre

LiveFry is an excellent plugin used on this site which has many features for bloggers.  With LiveFry you can manage all your comments from the WordPress dashboard or use LiveFry to moderate comments.  Like Disqus this plugin backs up your comments in a database file.  It comes fully equipped with real time tracking and social media capabilities.

Social Sharing

In order to get your blog noticed you have to have a social presence.  There are an absolute ton of social sharing plugins for WordPress.  These will allow people to “like”, “tweet”, “plus 1” etc.  You need a social plugin that doesn’t annoy the crap out of the readers but is visible enough where people can share your post if they want to.

Floating Share Button

The floating share button developed by wpbeginner.com is a great light weight social sharing plugin.  Compared to Digg Digg or other similar plugins it gets higher rankings and doesn’t have as many bugs.  The share bar does not float on the side of the post or page which makes it mobile user friendly.

SEO 

SEO is really not all that complicated and if your new to it there are a number of plugins that can help make your post SEO-friendly.  For instance, you need to have your keywords in the title, description, h1, etc. in order to have proper onpage optimization.

Yoast 

Yoast is the grand daddy of all SEO plugins.  This plugin is 100% free and used by thousands of bloggers.  This plugin will automatically check your onpage SEO, meta configuration, canonical, breadcrumbs, permalink, sitemaps, etc.  This plugin will literally teach you how to create blog post that are seo-friendly.

Graphics

Adding pictures that are free and have sharing licenses are vital to increasing the look and feel of your blog.  Adding pictures is time consuming and anything you can do to streamline the process is a plus.

Image Dropper

With Image Dropper you can install the plugin and find “creative commons” images that you can use on your blog.  No longer are you going to have to search Google for royalty free plugins in order to make your blog aesthetically pleasing.  With this plugin you have access to almost 250 million photos.

Security

If your running a blog you have to have security.  It’s a fact that one day your going to run into problems which makes your blog prone to hackers.  There are a number of plugins that you can install, but having the added piece of mind that you can install a plugin which will automatically back up your data is a lifesaver.

Backup Buddy 

Backup Buddy is a fantastic plugin by ithemes.com which will allow you to backup your mSQL databases automatically.  From time to time your blog could have issues and you need to be able to restore it to a previous state.   There are a lot of similar plugins that do the same; this one is paid but well worth the money.

Content

Your content needs to be “claimed” in order to show your the original author of the content.  There are a ton of content scrapers out there that will try to steal your post and pass it off as their own.  Rather than having to send a ton of DMCA takedown notices you can easily install a plugin which helps Google keep your name clear from duplicate content.

Google Plus Authorship

In order to claim your post you have to dig into the code and put the correct code in your WordPress framework.  Thankfully, with Google Plus Authorship you can simply install a plugin and cut and paste your data from your Google +1 account in order to verify that your the original owner of the content.

Accessibility

Your site needs to be functional and one huge draw back to a blog is having to wait 20 seconds or something absurd in order to view it.  People are impatient on the internet and don’t want to wait forever for a blog to load.  Not to mention, Google takes presence over sites that load quickly.

WP Super Cache 

Caching plugins help reduce the load balancing of your server.  There are many advanced features that allow you to have full control over your WordPress site.  This plugin is 100% free and a must for any blogger who wants to increase accessibility on their site.  This plugin works by storing cache so that your blog will run faster and smoother.

 

Garen Arnold is the chief editor of BlogSetupGuide. Garen is a seasoned blogger who has created many niche sites over several years. Garen writes about blogging and SEO tips that are focused towards newbies.

City Specific Domain Extensions Launched

 

Since the start of the internet, the .com domain has ruled. Most businesses use the URL if they are lucky enough to have purchased that domain. Otherwise, they may have been forced to choose an alternate domain for their website. This is usually the case if you are starting your business from scratch nowadays. While the .com domain has ruled, there are a few other options that are becoming more frequently used, such as .net or .co. But unfortunately, there are not an endless combination of words with which to come up with domain names.

Domain names with fewer letters are becoming scarcer. There is a limited number of letter combinations that can be made. Shorter domain names are becoming costly, if they are even available. While companies and personal users can choose domains that end in .net or .co, most people will try the .com ending first. This can lead to confusion when it comes to people finding your site, particularly with small businesses who may not have first crack at expensive domains.

But now, a new solution is being offered to business owners in some cities in the US. Domain for purchase company GoDaddy has made some new domain-name endings available. The two that are being offered currently are for the city of Los Angeles and also New York City. The domains end in either .la or .nyc. While they are primarily being marketed to businesses in these places, there are no rules in place that businesses who use these domains must be in these cities. In this article, Mashable suggests that the .la domain might also appeal to businesses that are based in Louisiana.

GoDaddy offered these new domains at a slightly higher price than their typical starting cost for domains. The auctions for popular domain names started around $100. The company offered about 300 unique domains with the .la extension. They were up for auction on GoDaddy’s site through July 18th.

The new city-specific domain extensions could be a big help to businesses. This makes more common domains available to more people. For example, if there is a company called Smith Marketing in New York, they could use smithmarketing.nyc and a different company with the same name in Los Angeles could use smithmarketing.la. I think it’s a great idea and it will be an easy way for internet users to distinguish companies that they are looking for from those that are in other areas of the country.

(Photo Source)

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

6 Ways to Activate the Passive Customer

 

Riddle me this: A customer attends all your webinars, opens all your email newsletters, regularly browses your site, and may have even made a few purchases, but for some reason you cannot get this customer to cross the engagement threshold and actually become an evangelist.

You want them to leave reviews and share purchases on social media, but they aren’t. What do you do?

Activating the passive customer can be a perplexing and frustrating effort. The good news is, the customer appears on your radar; the bad news is, you don’t know what buttons to push to make this customer take action. However, transforming these passive customers into brand evangelists is one of the smartest marketing investments any company can make, because these customers can amplify and spread your marketing messages in a way no paid marketing campaign could.

We can take some techniques from persuasive psychology to activate these passive, yet valuable customers. We need to Really, Come See About the Lost Shopper (RCSALS), which is also a list of the most powerful psychological reactions we can use in this situation: Reciprocation, Commitment, Social Proof, Authority, Liking, and Scarcity.

Reciprocation

The feeling of reciprocation proves to be one of the most powerful human impulses. Its a psychological instinct that says we should attempt to repay what another person has provided us. You know that feeling when someone buys you a really extravagant gift? Yeah, me neither! But I have heard it’s a very uncomfortable feeling stemming from the sense of “I will never be able to repay this person, or give them a gift of equivalent value.” Even when the person clearly gives something as a gift, and does not expect to be paid back in kind, we still get this feeling.

How you can use reciprocation to activate a passive customer: When you send a coupon or discount code to a customer, and they use it, make sure you follow up with a message prompting them to review the product/service on Yelp, tweet it out, or give it a Facebook “like.” This allows the customer to reciprocate and helps them “close the loop” psychologically.

Commitment and Consistency

Interestingly enough, consumers tend to be more confident of their choices after they buy something. The act of making a final decision activates a psychological trigger that makes people believe they made the right choice. Look at how Amazon gets so many customers to review products. They ship quickly, the customer gets the merchandise and soon after, Amazon sends an email asking for a review. The customer is already committed to the purchase, so asking them to leave a review becomes just the last step in a really smooth process.

How you can use commitment to activate a passive customer: Make it dead simple for the customer to share the purchase on social media as part of the checkout process.

Social Proof

Humans are social animals. One way we figure out what the socially acceptable thing to do is to find out what other people are doing. When I was a teenager, they called this “peer pressure.”

Have you ever gone into a bar that had just opened for the day? You notice the bartender’s tip jar already has a few dollars in it. How could this be? You are the first customer of the day. Bartenders are geniuses at social engineering, and in this case, the bartender uses the concept of social proof to prompt you to leave a tip. He does this by giving the appearance multiple patrons have already left tips as well.

How you can use social proof to activate a passive customer: Show how many shares, likes, and tweets certain items already have. Based on the existing social proof, this will motivate the customer to share, like, and tweet as well.

Authority

Even the most powerful people in the world drop their pants when the doctor tells them to do so. The most stubborn and headstrong person will quit a habit cold turkey if it’s “doctor’s orders.” Why is this? We are wired to defer to authority, and in this case, it’s a doctor who has authority in our lives when it comes to anything related to health and medicine.

How you can use authority to activate a passive customer: Simply tell them to engage. In many cases you don’t have to cajole or incentivize. Just say, “Here is what you need to do next: leave a review.” Make engagement part of the process.

Liking

Have you ever heard of Tupperware? Avon? Amway? These companies made millions trading on the human trait of liking. In other words, you are much more likely to buy something from someone you know and like, even if you don’t need it. A certain female in my life gets very anxious when she gets invited to an Avon party, because she knows she doesn’t need any makeup, but will buy some anyway to support the party host.

How you can use liking to activate a passive customer: If a customer makes repeat purchases, then it is safe to assume they like you—or at least your products. Many of the CRM solutions on the market have modules that will, when triggered by a customer’s second purchase within 30 days, automatically send the customer a note telling them, “Share Us on Twitter or Facebook to Get 20% Off Your Next Purchase.”

Scarcity

“Limited time offer!” “Supplies Limited!” “Last Chance!” “One of a Kind!” I’m sure you’ve seen slogans like this associated with all kind of products and services. These examples illustrate the concept of “scarcity.” When we have limited access to something, our desire for that thing increases, which is why you always seem to want what you can’t have.

How you can use scarcity to activate a passive customer: Make an offer for a customer to share with 10 friends in the next 10 minutes to get a 10% off coupon, and enforce the deadline.

When we take a look at marketing and customer engagement, sometimes we end up running in the same old marketing circles. Taking a look outside of marketing and engaging in other disciplines (such as persuasive psychology) can open up a whole new toolset for creative marketing strategies. Use these tips to turn your passive customers into active customers.

 

Tirrell Payton is a marketer and technologist with more than 15 years of experience in the digital world, and is the VP of Analytical Marketing at Egg Marketing and Communications. He is a former executive at Accenture, a global technology and consulting firm, where he helped companies transition from “industrial speed” to “web speed.” Prior to Accenture, he worked in the digital media division of Yahoo. Tirrell combines marketing sense with technology savvy with an unwavering eye on the bottom line. He is a regular contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com, Small Business Trends, and DIYMarketing as well as his own website, SEOTirrell. Follow him on Twitter @SEOTirrell.