Email Marketing Matters: Make the Most of It

Email Marketing Matters: Make the Most of It

Email marketing is a cost-effective means of engaging with everyone from casual website visitors to your best clients. That’s why it’s still a smart strategy for businesses of all sizes.

Email has always been among the best methods of engaging with your clientele. There’s no better way to stay in touch with potential customers. Done right, it enhances positive associations and encourages brand loyalty. These are only a few reasons to make the most of this powerful marketing tool.

For one, your potential audience is growing by leaps and bounds. As of 2017, there are 3.7 billion email users worldwide. The 233 million email users in the United States is projected to reach nearly 255 million by the end of 2020.

At least 91% of those users check their inbox daily. But most check much more frequently! And 72% of US adults prefer email communications from the companies they do business with. So you’re sure to give a good impression with a well-managed email marketing strategy.

Here are five reasons email marketing still matters and ways to make the most of it.

It’s inexpensive.

There’s no doubt about it, sending email will not break the bank. Even if you pay a third-party service for delivery or hire a writer to create your campaigns, the overall costs involved with email marketing are relatively small. But when you consider the next item on this list, any expenses really should pay for themselves.

Return on investment (ROI) is huge.

Email marketing has been shown to return $44 for every $1 spent. That’s a massive bang for your buck! A solo entrepreneur working with a smaller budget could potentially see an even higher rate of return.

Email is direct.

Yes, most people have Facebook accounts, but reaching your particular audience is easier done with focused email. Unlike other marketing methods, email reaches your subscribers directly and is addressed to them specifically.

It’s personal and customizable.

Email is also very personal and is easily customized. Using names and other information subscribers voluntarily provide increases the likelihood of having your message opened and read. Knowing your subscribers’ location, interests, goals, and activities simplifies giving them the exact information they need.

Email can be selective.

Nowadays it’s almost effortless to create multiple lists and fine-tune your marketing. Available tools help segment customers according to the types of products they’re interested in. You can craft messages to subscribers based on the information that attracts them most. Where else do you have so much control?

Use smart email marketing strategies.

Before starting any email marketing campaign, have specific goals in mind. Know what you want to achieve, and make it convenient for your reader to take that action.

For example, when sending a reminder to finish checkout, have a button directed to the abandoned shopping cart. If you provide a coupon code, include a link to your landing page where it can be redeemed.

Have a budget and stick to it! If you need a service to help grow your subscribers’ list, don’t start with a lot of expensive add-ons. You can always move up to a more comprehensive plan as your needs grow.

Track your metrics to understand which campaigns work best with your audience. Test different approaches and measure their success in increasing your bottom line.

Use social media to amplify your messages. Announce giveaways, contests, and other content to drive new visitors to your website to sign up for your email list.

Now that 48% of emails are opened on a smartphone, be sure yours are mobile-friendly and responsive to any browser on any size screen.

In conclusion.

Doing all you can to ensure your subscribers feel valued builds brand loyalty. That’s a major reason why email marketing still works.

An email list is an incredible asset you wholly own. You don’t share it with anyone, and you can keep using it months and years down the road.

So grow it, nurture it, and get results from it!

Have you used email marketing successfully to grow your business? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Cash In With E-commerce

Cash In With E-commerce

E-commerce is just another word for business transactions that happen online. Popular e-commerce websites include Amazon, Zappos, eBay, Overstock, and others.

It’s a billion dollar industry that continues to grow with each passing year.

The exciting thing about e-commerce is that it levels the playing field. Fifty years ago, you would have needed a large amount of capital to start your own business.

You would have spent that capital by renting a store, buying inventory, paying for advertising, hiring employees, and more.

Thanks to e-commerce, you don’t need to have deep pockets to go into business. All you need now is a desire to serve customers and a strong work ethic.

If you have these two traits, then you can become part of the e-commerce movement.

Best Practices for E-Commerce Shops

The most important part of running an e-commerce shop is making checkout simple and easy for customers.

It doesn’t matter how great your products are, if customers can’t easily check out, they’ll get frustrated and leave before the transaction is finished.

Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening by following these best practices.

Use multiple payment gateways.

When you only accept one type of payment, it can lead customers to abandon their cart. Try to offer at least two or three different payment gateways. That way, your customer can pick the one they prefer to use.

Allow customers to check out as a guest.

Not all visitors will be ready to go through the process of opening an account, so give them the choice to check out as a guest to reduce the chances that they will take their business elsewhere.

Offer affordable and quick shipping options.

When your customer is ready to check out, the first things they look for are your shipping choices. They want to know when they can expect their item and how much you’ll charge for this service. Give customers several options so they can choose the one that works best for their needs.

Optimize your search functionality.

Make sure that customers can easily search your site and navigate to the products they are most interested in. Use keywords in product descriptions to help customers find what they’re looking for and improve their overall impression of your site.

Minimize page load time.

More consumers are making purchases from their tablets or smartphones than ever before. This means that your page load time is important. If your shop takes too long to load, then your potential customer is likely to move on.

Keep your checkout speedy.

Your customer’s transaction is more likely to be completed if your checkout requires only a few screens. Ideally, it should be no more than three pages of information — one for the customer information, a second one for the payment gateway, and the third for shipping options.

Make customer service accessible.

Don’t make your customers hunt for a contact number or email address. This information should be visible on every page of your site. If you outsource customer support, be sure to train your representatives so they’re fast, knowledgeable, and friendly.

Now is the time

More big-name store closings are announced almost daily as major retailers are shutting down local stores, citing customer preferences for shopping online as one of the main factors.

With the number of online buyers increasing, it will literally pay to get in on the e-commerce boom as soon as possible. Use these tips and strategies to start cashing in with your own e-commerce business.

What are your e-commerce solutions? Let us know in the comments.

WordPress Website Security: Best Practices 2018

WordPress Website Security: Best Practices 2018

It’s true that WordPress website security is a concern. Because the content management system of choice is so commonly used, it’s much more attractive and therefore vulnerable to malicious actors.

A 2016 study showed that of more than 11,000 infected websites analyzed, 75% were on the WordPress platform. Over 50% of those websites were out of date.

It has also been reported that 73% of WordPress sites are vulnerable to attack.

But if you’ve bought into the hype that WordPress is inherently insecure, then you’re missing out on all the great things WordPress has to offer, for no good reason.

You can easily put a range of simple enhancements to your website security in place that will ease your mind while keeping your site safer.

Don’t let security concerns keep you from enjoying the flexibility and power of WordPress

WordPress sites do get hacked, but the fact is that they are no more dangerous than other php-based websites. And it is by no means the security risk some people would have you believe.

The problem is that WordPress is open source, which means that anyone can read the code — even the bad guys who spend all their time looking for vulnerabilities they can exploit.

Couple that with the enormous popularity of WordPress, and it’s easy to see why you hear about hacks on a regular basis.

But that doesn’t mean WordPress is unsafe. Your site’s chances of being attacked are substantially minimized when you implement just a few security best practices.

Good Website Security Practices Help Protect Your Site

Every time you drive a car your risk of having an accident is increased, but that doesn’t mean you don’t drive. You simply take steps to reduce your risk instead. WordPress is no different.

With a few security measures in place, your danger of being hacked is nearly non-existent.

To start:

  • Choose a secure hosting environment.
  • Keep your site and its themes and plugins up to date.
  • Use strong passwords and change them often.
  • Limit login attempts.
  • Add two-factor authentication.

Be Smart About Your Hosting

Unlimited domains! Infinite space! Limitless bandwidth! And all for around $8 per month. You’ve probably seen the claims and may even have a hosting account with one of these companies.

Here’s the problem. This type of shared hosting is inexpensive only because they overload their servers with thousands of websites.

Just as close proximity in crowded classrooms allows human viruses to quickly spread, the close proximity of websites on a shared server means one infected site is a risk to all the others.

Choose a host that allows you to isolate each site on its own cPanel, rather than looking for the least expensive (and possibly riskiest) hosting option. Doing so will greatly improve the security of your website.

Keep Your Site Up to Date

This is by far the biggest hazard when it comes to security. New vulnerabilities are discovered in WordPress and its plugins and themes on a regular basis, so if your site is out of date, it is at risk.

Most hacked sites are running old versions that are not optimized for protection against vulnerabilities, and are therefore more easily compromised.

Hackers actively search for outdated websites they can attack, so make it a point to keep your site up to date. That includes plugins, themes, and the WordPress software itself.

The WordPress security team regularly releases security patches and core updates to counteract weaknesses, continually strengthening the overall stability and safety of the platform.

Use Strong Passwords

Second only to out-of-date installations when it comes to inviting hackers, weak passwords are regularly exploited with a technique called a “brute force” attack.

Simply put, a hacker sets a computer program (or “bot”) to repeatedly attempt to login to your site using thousands of the most commonly used passwords and what are known as “dictionary” words.

This type of vulnerability can be easily avoided just by choosing good passwords. Ideally, your passwords should:

  • be longer than 12 characters
  • never be used for more than one site
  • contain upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols
  • never be stored in plain text on your computer
  • never be sent by email
  • be changed often

Also, consider using a password manager such as LastPass to generate and securely store good, strong passwords. You’ll never have to worry about remembering your passwords, and you’ll greatly reduce your risk of being hacked.

Limit Login Attempts

It goes without saying that you should never use easy usernames like “admin” that are the first choice of malicious bots attempting a brute force attack on your site.

Another good defense is to limit the number of login attempts allowed before a visitor is blocked out. This is easily done with the use of any number of available security plugins.

Add Two-Factor Authentication

Requiring users to authenticate their credentials a second time prevents nefarious programs from entering your site in the event that your username and password are compromised in a brute force attack.

In addition to something the visitor knows (username and password), this system calls for identity to be proven again by something ONLY that visitor has. This is commonly a dynamic passcode generated specifically for the visitor to input before continuing to enter your website.

Again, this is easily implemented using one of many excellent website security plugins available at the WordPress repository.

Conclusion

In the end, the safety and security of your site and its data is entirely up to you. Keep your software up to date, use good passwords, and choose a secure hosting environment, and you’ll be well ahead of the curve.

And while this is by no means a comprehensive article covering every aspect, these actionable tips can ensure that your WordPress website security is, if not impenetrable, at least so difficult to hack that it’s simply not worth the try.

Do you have favorite plugins or processes to help protect your website? Let us know in the comments below!