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The Best WordPress Plugins for Internet Marketers

WordPress is arguably one of the most flexible and widely used content management systems on the web. The dynamic nature of the popular CMS allows a novice to easily set up powerful functionality or a seasoned development professional to bend it to their will. The system has been especially valuable for internet marketers with the variety of both free and paid plugins available for installation. If you are an internet marketer or simply interested in promoting your WordPress site, the following list of plugins are handy tools to have.

Every Marketer Should have a Good SEO Plugin

There are tons of SEO plugins made for WordPress. Some free, some paid and some specialized for specific SEO tasks. If you have one that is working for you then by all means, stick with it. However if you haven’t made up your mind I’d like to recommend a few. All of these plugins are easy for novices to use yet also offer some advanced functionality for SEO professionals. The first is SEO Ultimate which is a great general SEO plugin for WordPress. It features an easy to use interface that allows you to enter meta descriptions and title tags for posts right below the post editor. You can monitor 404 error pages and apply site-wide SEO settings. Another great optimization plugin is the Yoast SEO plugin which has some great features. Users can edit their robots and .htaccess files right from the Yoast interface and permalink cleanup is a snap. Finally the All in One SEO Pack is also a great option for WordPress sites. It has good support for Google Analytics, it generates meta tags automatically and works great out-of-the-box for beginners.

Analytics is a Must

For any internet marketer, being able to measure success is imperative. WordPress integrates very easily with Google Analytics making it easy to generate actionable data. The Google Anlytics plugin for WordPress makes setting up tracking super simple. It provides an easy-to-use interface along with short descriptions on how to configure analytics to get you the data you need. Of course you can still use the traditional Google interface if you prefer but setting things up within the plugin is much simpler and doesn’t require pasting code snippets into HTML on your website. A notable feature of the widget is that you can select a check box to log outgoing links as events, a process which is much more tedious without the plugin and that requires programming knowledge.

Show Your Visitors more Content While Lowering Your Bounce Rate

Showing your visitors related content to the posts they are reading is a great way to both lower the bounce rate of your blog or website and also keep visitors there. I highly recommend Yet Another Related Post Plugin (YARPP). It has a Templating system that allows you to configure how your posts look to readers. Best of all, it has a customizable algorithm that can find related content from across your site. The plugin is especially useful if you have been blogging for a long time and have tons of content on your site that you may not even remember is there.

Reach Out and Touch Someone

If you are running a business website with Worpress or if you just want to have a way for visitors to contact you, having a good form is essential. Setting up forms with validation is next to impossible if you don’t have programming knowledge and finding a good one for WordPress can be trickier than meets the eye. If you don’t mind spending a little cash, it doesn’t get much better than Gravity Forms. Not only can you create visually appealing and professional looking forms, but layout and validation are a snap. It integrates with Paypal and Mailchimp and it also allows you to create forms where users can upload images or documents among other things. For about 40 bucks you can get an individual user license. If you are looking for something free, Contact Form 7 is a good alternative. The interface isn’t as user friendly but there is a lot of good validation and form field functionality.

Sharing is Caring

Social Media should be an essential component of any internet marketing campaign. Giving your visitors a way of sharing your great content is a must. You should make it as easy and simple as possible for visitors to spread your content across social networks. A great way to do that is with the Sociable plugin. While there are many great sharing plugins out there, Sociable is an easy to use and easy to customize option. Some social sharing widgets don’t allow you to select the social networks that appear which is important if you know where your target audience is spending most of their time.

WordPress is a brilliant platform for internet marketers because it allows those with little or no programming knowledge to build intuitive and attractive websites on their own. The best part about it is all the amazing plugins available for accomplishing your marketing goals. If you wanted to market something online in the past, it used to mean being a programming wizard. WordPress and all the awesome plugins available for it have changed all that. With the right tools, internet marketers can now easily look like superstars without a lot of effort.

What are your favorite plugins for WordPress that aren’t included in this list?

Understanding Your Content Marketing Objectives

Unfortunately, many online businesses are winging it when it comes to their content marketing campaign. Most don’t have a defined strategy so they’re simply publishing content— frequently and infrequently, valuable and not—in the hopes that it achieves some sort of favorable result. Some hit the jackpot with bits of viral content here and there, while others aren’t so lucky.

The fact of the matter is that in order to have a solid plan your content marketing objectives must align with your overall business strategy. Clear objectives are detrimental to the use of the right media, development of the right message, and creation of the right dialogue. It’s a matter of moving along the path from being found to engaging and generating two-way conversations with your target audience who eventually become brand evangelists.

With this in mind, let’s look at some common objectives you should consider when building out your content marketing plan.

Improve SEO and Traffic

Implementing SEO tactics to gain maximum exposure in SERPs is important, but it probably shouldn’t be the key driver of your strategy. If your sole focus is on keywords, you potentially ignore the needs of your intended audience. SEO should certainly play a major role when planning your campaign, but organic traffic and links should be a by-product of the high quality content you produce. Make this an objective so that you benefit from targeted keywords and phrases, just don’t make it your primary one.

Raise Brand Awareness and Recognition

If you’re still in the early stages of service and product introduction, then generating awareness for your brand will most likely be one of your primary goals. One of the most effective ways to extend the recognition of your brand, business, idea, or cause is to share several content formats across multiple channels.

Increase Engagement

The objective here is to generate content that turns awareness into something more meaningful. The content needs to resonate with your readership and actively encourage connection, participation, and relationship building in an effort to enhance an individual’s experience with your brand.

Improve Brand Perception

Brand perceptions and experiences develop over time through many different sources, including content. The content, tone, and style of the message you deliver helps the market relate to it, helps shape the way in which consumers view your brand, and contributes to higher conversion rates. Relevant, creative, and interesting content is among the top reasons people choose to follow a brand, which makes it all that more important.

Generate Leads

Content marketing is incredibly effective for lead generation. Understanding your audience, identifying the right content to create, and then sharing that content allows you to attract prospects who are willing to exchange their details for the content you have to offer.

Nurture Leads

After prospects provide their details and you have permission to market to them, you need to follow-up with meaningful and consistent dialogue. The objective here is to covert enquiries into qualified leads, and then convert those qualified leads into sales. Your aim is to build strong relationships and maintain mindshare with decision-makers.

Increase Sales/Revenue

When done correctly, content marketing ultimately increases sales. We’re not only talking about converting highly qualified leads into customers, but customers into repeat buyers. Your strategy helps you gain entry into a consumer’s decision process when they’re ready to purchase, and then proves to them that your solution is the best solution to meet their needs.

Improve Loyalty and Retention

If your goal is to turn customers into people who talk positively about your brand and pass on favorable word-of-mouth communications, then you need to focus on creating content in alignment with a solid customer retention strategy. A popular tactic includes the use of e-newsletters. However, you should fully explore the numerous options available before selecting the most appropriate tactics for your business.

Become a Thought Leader

Many B2B marketers see this objective as an area of significance since it differentiates them from competitors and establishes them as a trusted resource. If you choose to pursue this objective, you need to ensure you deliver exceptional value through fresh perspectives and game-changing insights.

Other Objectives

Other key objectives you may want to consider include educating your market, creating greater brand affinity, generating referrals, raising marketplace visibility (globally and locally), influencing key stakeholders, increasing user generated content (e.g. reviews and fan sites), up-selling and cross-selling, and gaining competitive intelligence. In addition, you may want to increase the lifetime value of a customer, improve customer service (before and after the sale), build collaborative, deeper relationships with your online community, and create passionate brand advocates. Keep in mind that the objectives of a B2B company generally differs from that of a B2C company.

Ultimately, you need to figure out what a successful content marketing campaign looks like to your business. The only way you’ll be able to strategize an effective plan is if you know what you’re aiming to achieve. Consider your business strategy and then determine which objectives are most relevant to your strategy. You’ll then be able to pinpoint which metrics to measure and set benchmarks to establish the impact of your campaign.

Do you have clearly defined content marketing goals? Share your thoughts below.

Optimizing Your Social Network Accounts for Local Search

Even though you’re a brick and mortar business owner, you should still have a good grasp on the importance of creating an online presence. More and more people are using the Internet to find local businesses, which means you could be missing an opportunity if you haven’t optimized your website for local search.

It’s crucial to take this strategy a step further though by optimizing your social networks. Social profiles are quickly finding their way into the top spots of search results, claiming prime positioning and visibility. You’re no longer just trying to outrank the websites of your competitors; you’re also trying to outrank their network profiles.

While you may not be able to include your full company address on every site, there are still plenty of optimization opportunities you shouldn’t ignore. Here are just a few easy tips to get you started.

Facebook Page

Creating a Facebook Page for your local business is a great way to give your brand a voice and advertise your company online. When setting up the page, select “Local Business or Place” from the six options available. You’ll then be prompted to fill in a form that requests your industry category, business name, address information, and contact number. Once the page is active, you can edit your profile to include your website URL, trading hours, and general business information.

Although users can easily see your physical address at the top of your page, Facebook makes it easier to find the exact location of your business by automatically providing a map within the “About” section of your profile.

LinkedIn Company Page

Recently, LinkedIn introduced a fresh look for its Company Pages and added several awesome features, including the ability to access Company Pages on its Andriod, iPhone, and iPad apps. You can read more on the LinkedIn Blog, but for the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on optimizing your account for local search. Even if you have a page set up for your business, there’s no harm in checking out the new features and making sure your page is optimized.

The first thing you want to do is edit your LinkedIn Company Page once you’ve created it. You’ll find the “Edit” button in the top right-hand corner. Once you click it, you’ll see several fields that need to be filled in with your business details. What you need to concentrate on for local search is the area towards the bottom of the page that says “Company Locations.”

Make certain the address details displayed in this section are correct and that they’re reflected in the same way you’ve added your business address to your website and any online directories. Simply click the “Add another location link” if you have two or more locations.

Twitter

To optimize your Twitter account, you simply need to make a few adjustments to your profile information. Edit your profile to include your business name, location, website address, and bio. Be sure to include strategic keywords within your bio for optimum results, as well as any relevant information that would better help potential customers find you offline.

Pinterest

Create a descriptive bio populated with targeted keywords, add your website URL, and include your location in the relevant fields provided when editing your profile information. Your pinboards will show up in search engine results, which increases your chances of your target audience finding you.

Foursquare

If you have yet to claim your business venue on this location-based check-in app, now would be the time to do so. When you sign up, make certain you use your business name and the appropriate location details. You will then need to verify your authority to claim the location after creating your account. Foursquare offers some nifty features, such as sharing your activity with your other social media networks and offering specials to attract new customers, so explore the site for marketing opportunities.

Google+ for Business

When joining Google+ for Business, you’ll find there are five options from which to choose. As with Facebook, you should select “Local Business or Place.” Once you set up your page, you need to customize it by editing your public profile information. Here you need to focus on adding a tagline with targeted keywords, images that represent your brand and offerings, an introduction to your business, contact information and your address, and relevant links to your website and other social media profiles. Not only will your tagline show up in Google+ searches, but a map of your location will also display on your profile page.

Monitoring Your Results

No matter which marketing strategies you implement online, it is critical to monitor your progress so that you know you’re achieving your desired results. In this case, you want to ensure you’re reaching and engaging individuals who are within your targeted regions. Check your analytics for information on your demographics and make changes if necessary. You may find you need to publish more location-specific content, or employ tactics designed to boost audience growth within a specific region.

By ensuring your social media profiles are optimized and that they include the correct address details, you potentially increase referral traffic, walk-ins, and revenue. The most important thing is to make sure your profiles are accessible to the public. If they do not show up in search results, you’ve wasted your time and energy while your local competitors are reaping the rewards of their social optimization.

Have you optimized your social networks for local SEO? Share your tips in the comment section below.

What is Content Strategy?

As I set out to write about Content Strategy, I did not want to write a blog article that was mysterious, overly technical, deep and out of touch. The last thing we need is an incomprehensible understanding of something that is not meant to be overly complex or hard to grasp! At the same time, as I have studied Content Strategy, a series of questions, basic and complex, began to flood my mind. What is Content Strategy? Why is it important? How is it created? Who creates it? What happens when you have a Content Strategy? What are the tactics to implement the strategy? Where does content fit into a Content Strategy? How do you manage Content Strategy? Over time, I would like to cover all of these questions and more, but I will start with…

What is Content Strategy?

The more I looked at Content Strategy, I see it as the bringing together of two subjects that, if understood and appreciated, can foster the creation of better content, better experiences and better results, for content consumers and content distributors alike. In trying to keep with a less complex approach, I think it is best to parse these words to appreciate what happens when they are joined together.

What is content?

In simple terms, content is “… is any information that is being distributed.” Taking this simple definition, content is information. When we look online, content can produced in the form of text, audio, video and images and it is then formed into various platforms as articles, blogs, reviews, press releases, case studies, etc.

What is strategy?

While the origins of the word ‘strategy’ have roots in the military , businesses have adopted the terminology and applied the principles into business, thereby creating an entire industry around strategy. Unfortunately, with this expansion and use of the term, it has become layered in definitions that are more complex. In short, strategy is the method by which one accomplishes goals.

A Beautiful Combination

When you bring these two terms together, Content Strategy can then be defined as, the creation of a content methodology to meet your goals. Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach, further expand on this in their book, Content Strategy For The Web, stating that,

Content strategy guides your plans for the creation, delivery, and governance of content. – Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach

Well, now that this is over! Happy Writing! Fortunately, it is not that simple! Having this clear concise definition in hand, opens up the door to the next questions, why is content strategy important and how do you get started?

Unfortunately, I’ll have to tackle that subject and more in my next blog article.

Have a question or want to post a comment, feel free to respond below! I would love to hear what you think and whether you agree or disagree.

Press Release Strategy Giving Compelling Reasons You Need One

The Internet has paved the way for radical changes in marketing, allowing businesses to generate awareness much faster and more effectively than ever before. One powerful publicity tool that is often underestimated is the press release. Some say it’s dead. Others ignore it in favor of alternative methods. Then there are those who continuously benefit from a solid strategy.

At this point, it’s key to consider that the Internet is like one gigantic newsroom. Take a quick look at your Facebook feed and you’re bound to find someone who has shared a news story from the day. The extent to which you are able to reach prospects has only expanded with the creation of sharing platforms such as social media sites, web applications, and blogs.

Let’s look at the importance of strategy for generating exposure this way:

Journalists and bloggers continuously look for news items to cover. These people have major influence when it comes to spreading your story.
Many of the world’s largest publications are recording a steady decline in print circulation as digital circulation increases. That means more people are using online sources for their daily news fix.

Since press releases are considered timely and relevant, they usually receive higher rankings. This increases your visibility and your chances of being found quickly.

While you can now see the opportunity for building awareness, let’s assess some of the other reasons press releases deserve a second thought.

Why should you create a buzz about your business with this publicity tool?

Reason 1: Actively Fight for Mindshare

Online press releases help level the playing field so that competing against industry giants for media and consumer mindshare is much more scalable than it was before. By leveraging content syndication, you have the potential to reach millions of readers and attract the attention of journalists. A long-term distribution strategy also lets you send out a consistent message about what you offer, who you are, and why your target audience needs you. In turn, this extensive exposure helps expedite the growth of your business.

Reason 2: Benefit from Improved Search Engine Rankings

While you shouldn’t compromise readability for the sake of SEO, you should optimize your release for better results. Besides strategically placing targeted keywords throughout your text, you should put keyword-rich links that point back to your business website within the content. Additionally, you can benefit by putting keywords into the URL of your press release.

The advantage of using an experienced writer for your content creation is that an expert already understands the press release process and is able to produce high quality content. The advantage of using a press release submission service is that you gain extensive distribution, which could result in your news being included on premium industry and news websites. Inclusion on other sites leads to a boost in traffic, an increase in backlinks, and an improvement in rankings.

Reason 3: Reach an Interested Audience

Thanks to online distribution services, you can also effectively reach an engaged readership. These people are opt-in subscribers who have set up their RSS feeds to receive topic-specific news pieces. The result is that you open yourself up to an audience that is receptive to your communications and most likely ready to buy.

Reason 4: Maximize Your Marketing Dollars

Compared to other marketing methods, press releases are relatively inexpensive when you consider the amount of exposure you could potentially gain. Email marketing, for example, limits you to your list. Advertising can be outrageously expensive, with little return on your investment. A press release, on the other hand, is an option that allows you to reach an optimum number of people for a very small fee.

Reason 5: Keep Investors Informed

While you could consider this reason self-explanatory, there is another view you should consider. If your main competitors are entrenched in a press release strategy, your investors could expect you to follow suit. You want to keep the people backing you in the know so that their trust in you is maintained.

While the value of the press release is undeniable, you can only benefit if you ensure you have effective content and that it gets in front of the right eyes. Don’t ignore direct outreach via this method, but make sure you do it the right way. Building a powerful content strategy means evaluating every option, including press releases.

Do you have a press release strategy? Please share how it’s working out for you in the comments section below.