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Website management and marketing tools including development and design, CRM ( customer relationship management ), email marketing systems, social media dashboards, and content management tools abound. There is an overwhelming amount of information available on each of these tools and solutions. As you may have, I have read my share of lists throughout my days. When you are looking to find the best tool for your needs, they are great. I love lists. But, I think I have always really wanted someone to share their workflow and the suite of website management tools. I wanted to know how others really organized the tasks they had to manage each day, week. month. So, in that spirit, I wanted to share the website management tools and services I use to keep my life, and especially my online life, easier to manage and managing clients information as well. Through time I have acquired a collection of my favorite website management tools. I would share the tools that I use to manage information online and I hope you find them helpful as well.
Content Management: WordPress We use WordPress as a content management platform for a few important reasons. First, WordPress is open source and available at no charge. It is easy to , has the greatest amount of plugins for customizing and expanding the functionality of your site. Because of its huge user base, It is fairly easy to get support from other users.
Html Editor : Blue Griffon
Web tools to build forms for your website ( both are plugins for WordPress) :
- WP Forms – Both free and paid versions. Thes e Free version is great but it lacks the ability to save the data in WordPress. The upgrade version starts at $49.00
- Along with WPforms, you may need a little tool to send email via SMTP instead of through PHP
- Ninja Forms – Is my reference of the two.
Cloze Simple CRM ( Customer Relationship Management ) Cloze is a favorite web tool for managing relationships in a very easy and natural way. Close can keep track of people while gathering information from their social profiles across the web. You can track interactions with people by keeping all your communications with them in one place ( including the times and length of phone calls with them…automatically. Cloze not only manages people but also the companies they work for and projects you may have. Every other CRM system I looked at seemed to require me to change my workflow too much and were to cumbersome. If you are looking for a CRM system that is easy to manage, I find Cloze fantastic. Cloze helps manage the data of clients, companies, and projects along with your interactions with them. That is why Cloze is one of my favorite website management tools.
MailChimp-Email System to send out bulk email.
Toggl _ Record Time spent on projects in a way that is simple with some automatic features that make it very.ses
Evernote – Evernote is a great way to take and organize text and images in the way that work for you. From clipping and saving web content to creating notebooks for each job/project
Social Media Dashboards
EFax – 12532767469 Yes, I know that many people still use a fax machine for sending and receiving documents. After having our fill of offers to fix our roof or seal our driveway, we made the transition to digital faxes for the rare times that we need them today. There are a plethora of reasons to ax the fax. Toner/ink are a thing of the past. No longer will you run out of paper. With digital fax documents, it is much easier to delete the unwanted faxes or save them where you can find them.
Yoast – SEO plugin for WordPress – Yoast helps you take advantage of opportunities to maximize your visibility to shine in search engines by walking you through things you might forget about in your posts or on your pages. Plus, they offer online and email training courses in search engine optimization. Yoast is one of my favorite web tools because it reminds me of the things I may have missed, it tracks my keywords, reminds me of alt tags in images checks the readability of my posts, creates and maintains a sitemap and many other tedious tasks. Yoast is definitely one of my favorite website management tools.
Gravitar- There are times when people want to connect with a brand but more often than not they would rather connect with people ( especially the owner or key management person.) Globally Recognized Avatar https://en.gravatar.com/ One thing that helps is the use of headshots or other photos of you or key players. Gravitar helps make that a little easier.
URL Shortener – Bit.ly Bitly is url shortener that allows you to customize the URL and will track clicks on each one. It’s very handy.
Backup System – You spend a lot of time and money on your website, the last thing you need is to have it crash or get hacked right when you have that big presentation. We use Updraft to backup your website. all your files and databases are backed up automatically on a regular basis. Updraft also allows you to save your backups in other locations like Google Drive File Stream. Updraft has saved my butt more that once and makes it to my list of favorite website management tools.
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Quick Start for maximizing your efforts in Social Media.
- First: Perform a social media audit of where we are and set goals (Where)
- Analyze every component of your Social Media, Website, Reputation, as well as your traditional advertising you employ. Remember, all your marketing efforts need to work together. We have to know where we are starting from to set attainable goals. Which networks are the best to participate in to reach advocates of our efforts and customers.
- Second: We need to create a strategy (What)
- How can we leverage social media integrating with our other marketing efforts? The majority of people will research companies on the internet. How can we expand our networks and increase our sales.
- What social media networks inbound and push marketing ( paid ) on Social Media or search engine marketing.
- Have you claimed all your online listings ( Google Maps, Yahoo, others)
- Third: Create the tactics to support the strategy. (How)
- What social media – inbound and push marketing ( paid ) will work best to grow sales.
- Should we used paid advertising on social media, search, email, and traditional advertising and how will we employ them?
- Directories – how can we leverage the free online directories ( Maps, Yahoo, others) Have you claimed all your online listings?
- What is our budget and test what works best. How can we minimize costs and maximize return on investment?
- What social media – inbound and push marketing ( paid ) will work best to grow sales.
- Forth: Continually analyze the results and make adjustments on a periodic basis. ( Rince and repeat _
- Monthly is a good interval.
- What is working? What needs to change?
Or you can call me at 562-726-2784
Over the next 4 weeks we will be sharing information each week on growing your business with social media. You can sign up here and we will send you the posts.
Here, we will explore perhaps the most often question we hear from clients, “we have a Facebook business page and an Instagram account but how do we use social media to increase sales?” That is not such an easy question to answer. There really isn’t a cookie-cutter approach that will work for everyone but there are some concepts that apply to most. Social media is first and foremost, social. People generally don’t visit sites to see commercials. People use Social media sites to connect with others.
With so many tools available online, how can we comprehensive and synergistic way, develop and implement an online marketing plan that works with our existing marketing efforts while creating a return on investment.
Taking stock of where you are, your digital footprint.
One of the first steps is to take stock of where you are right now. Take a look at some key metrics. Look at the number of Facebook friends. More importantly, take a look at how people engage with you on Facebook. You should do the same with any other social media sites. Next, you can Google yourself to see what people are saying about you. Any marketing effort will be hampered if potential customers find you online only to see negative reviews. We should also look at the metrics on your website. How many people visit, what pages do they visit, how long do they stay on those pages, how did they find you, through search, by referral or directly. Finally, if you purchase any online advertising, is it optimized for the greatest return?
Once you know where you are, it is time to take a look at where you want to go.
As I said above, you need to know where you want to go, what you want to achieve. Does increasing your Facebook followers really create value for you? We won’t know until we decide on our objective.
- Do we want to increase our sales? By how much and over what period?
- Do we want to increase the number of donors ( Sometimes it is easier to get more donors at a lower commitment in order to reach out to them in the future for other donations)
- Do we want to increase awareness of a special issue? How much do we want to expand that reach and in what areas of the world?
How are your going to get there?
Some online tools you probably already use. Your website, email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are some of the most common. Then there are search engines, directory sites, review sites and many more that without a plan, they can end up being a giant time waster. So, are there ways to maximize our efforts and minimize the time we spend? Yes. The good thing is that business owners already know the difficult part, how to handle customers/visitors. The easier part learning the tools to leverage our efforts.
One of the ways I like to think about Social Media sites is like a social event like a dinner party. At a social gathering, you probably would not pitch your company. You would probably share stories and information of value. If someone else brought up the topic of your business, then you and your business might be the solution that others are looking for. In those instances, it would be appropriate to talk shop. Also sharing your expertise with people is another way to add value to conversations. You build credibility and establish yourself as an expert.
Why does this work?
Building relationships and trust have power in a couple of ways.
- Your efforts in social media reinforce your other promotional efforts.
- Your efforts also build trust in your communities for the times that you might want to create an offer, they are willing to act on.
- By having a presence online, you help people in communities to refer you to others. Referrals are one huge benefit of social media if you plan for them.
Social Media marketing efforts are not instant.
It takes time to build influence, and create trust. There are ways to streamline the process of both sharing in social media as well as listening to conversations about you. Listening to conversations is as important as sharing. People want to be understood as much as to understand. By doing so, you make deposits in your relationship bank account. Social Media does not need to be time-consuming. Two-way communication is what separates inbound marketing from traditional outbound messages of traditional marketing.
Maximize the use of your website.
By making your site the hub of communications, you create additional traffic to your site. Traffic sent to our sites from search engines is vital and it is why there are so many people out there trying to sell SEO (search engine optimization). There really isn’t any simple way to increase your rank in search engines. Google uses very complex algorithms that they do not share. We do know of a few; numbers of inbound links from sites of authority, Structure of the content, does the content answer the searchers’ query, how often the site is updated, How fast is the site, etc. One other criterion that is very important is how the site performs on a mobile device. All of these items are related to the users’ experience. These many factors along with others show us that there is no shortcut to SEO.
Social media messages you share help drive people to visit our site. Generally, we like to create content on our site and then share a snippet of that content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc so if people want more information they can follow the link to back to us. It is sort of like a loss leader in a grocery store. We go in for milk and we get to see everything else. It Increases traffic and suggests to search engines that your site is a popular and therefore a good site to move up in rankings. The content you build on your site will naturally help build your search engine traffic. If your site has the answer to the visitor’s query, you are probably getting a good idea the role social media helps grow sales
Are there ways to make managing this easier?
Besides the workflow we described above, to help manage social profiles, sharing and listening, there are a few tools help the process. Social media dashboards are one tool that helps. Social Media dashboards allow you to connect multiple social media accounts in one place. They make cross-posting, managing followers, and scheduling post much easier. We will explore some of the social media dashboards in another post.
Analyze your results to make adjustments in the direction of your goals.
Taking measurements on a regular basis is critical. We need to know if we are making progress toward our objectives or do we need to make adjustments. Not doing so will waste time and money. ( plus it is fun to see progress).
A word of caution, There is often a temptation to look in on the metrics too often. Any marketing plan, Inbound, outbound or any combination will take some time to accurately judge. Monthly evaluations can indicate trends but generally not concrete facts. We usually suggest giving a plan 3 months to really get an idea of the efficacy.
So that is a very quick overview of how things are connected. I left out a lot. We didn’t cover listening to what people are saying about us and reputation management but we will cover those in more depth later.