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10 Ways to Boost Online Store Sales with Wishlists

The post 10 Ways to Boost Online Store Sales with Wishlists appeared first on HostGator Blog . Adding wishlist functions to your online store can help turn more window-shoppers into paying customers, if you make your wishlist visible and easy to use—and maybe don’t call it a wishlist. Here’s how to choose your wishlist tools, put them in the right places on your site, and make the most of the marketing opportunities wishlists deliver. 10 Steps to Wishlists That Work Why do wishlists work for online stores? Saving items for later reduces cart abandonment, and it makes it easy for your shoppers to pick up where they left off later, even on another device. Shareable wishlists can also reach new customers who are shopping for gifts or want to copy a social media influencer’s style. Follow these steps to boost sales for your online store with wishlists. 1. Choose your wishlist plugin The best wishlist plugins make it easy for your customers to use them. Look for guest wishlist options, social shareability, privacy options for individual wishlists, and easy to use admin tools that show you which products are the most wished-for. Two of the best-rated options for stores that run on WordPress with WooCommerce are WooCommerce’s own Wishlists plugin and YITH WooCommerce Wishlist . Both cost $79 for a one-year, single-site subscription. YITH also offers a pared-down free version. 2. Decide what to call your wishlists Wishlist—as in, “add to wishlist” may seem like the obvious term to use in your store. But UX-research group Nielsen Norman Group has found that some shoppers feel “greedy” about adding things to a list to share with others. NNG recommends alternatives like Favorites or My List. 3. Choose where to put wishlist tools on your site There should be an add to wishlist (or favorites or my list) button on every product page. Google’s Retail UX Playbook lists wishlist-related calls to action on product pages to reduce friction for shoppers who are browsing or who want to complete their purchase later, on another device. You can also add a wishlist button—usually a heart—to product photos on your category pages. West Elm does this, and lets shoppers start marking favorites without signing in or creating an account first. Shoppers can review their My Favorites Gallery and sign in if they want to save those items for later. It’s also a good idea to make wishlists visible and easy to access from the shopping cart and during checkout, to encourage shoppers to add items from their lists. 4. Customize your store’s wishlist tools You should be able to customize your wishlist buttons, colors, messages, and more to blend in with your site design. You may also have the option to require that shoppers register in order to make a wishlist, although NNG recommends against that because it adds friction to the shopping experience. You may also be able to customize the sharing options you want your store’s wishlists to support. Make it as easy as possible for shoppers to share their lists, especially on social media. One study found that online stores without “clear social sharing options” consistently miss out on potential sales .   5. Preview and test your store’s wishlist features Navigate through your store the way shoppers do and add things to test wishlists to make sure that everything looks and works the way you want it to. Preview the new setup on different devices and pay special attention to how your customizations look on mobile phones. And follow our recommendations for other UX testing best practices . 6. Activate your new wishlist capabilities Make your wishlist functions live, let your shoppers know they can make wishlists, and then listen for their feedback. You may need to tweak things as customers start building and sharing their lists. Wishlist implementation done, right? You’re just getting started. You’ll get much more value from your store’s wishlists if you go beyond relying on customers to keep and share their lists. The next steps are all about making the most of the marketing opportunities wishlists give you. 7. Use wishlist data in your marketing campaigns Use your wishlist admin dashboard to make your marketing more effective. You’ll see how often list owners post. You can see which products are on the most wishlists and promote them. You can personalize email offers to customers based on specific items on their lists. And you can create holiday promotions that offer deals on users’ wishlist items and incentives for sharing lists. You can also send personalized offers of similar items at different price points, along with cross-sell offers. For example, if a customer has a pair of jeans on her list, you can offer cheaper and more expensive jeans from the same brand. You can also offer tops, belts, and shoes that would look good with her wishlist jeans. 8. Test your wishlist-based marketing efforts We’ve talked before on the blog about A/B testing for email marketing , and your wishlist marketing messages should get A/B tested, too. Sometimes the color or placement of a button or a small change to the wording of a subject line can make a significant difference in engagement and conversions. So, test early and often. 9. Monitor your wishlist metrics Over time, you’ll send trends emerge from you wishlist data. How many of your shoppers have wishlists? Is the number of lists rising or flat? Are your customers consistently sharing their lists, or do you need to promote sharing more heavily? Pay special attention to how users are sharing their lists. Is email or social their preferred channel? If it’s social, which platforms do they use the most, and which platforms generate the most traffic to your store from shared lists? This data will help you decide where to focus your marketing efforts. It can also flag areas where you may need to improve UX. For example, if you’re getting a lot of click-throughs from lists shared on Instagram but very few conversions, you need to examine that pathway to see if there are obstacles you can remove to increase sales. 10. Keep optimizing your wishlist program Consumer preferences, technology, and social network popularity are always evolving. That means you need to keep tabs on what’s trending in online retail, in addition to watching your marketing metrics and A/B test results. Keep listening to your customers, too. Any opinions or requests they share about your wishlists when they contact customer service or post on social media are data you can use to build a better wishlist program. Ready to start granting e-commerce wishes? Build your online store with HostGator. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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How to Secure a Website from Hackers [10 Step Guide]

The post How to Secure a Website from Hackers [10 Step Guide] appeared first on HostGator Blog . As a website owner, is there anything more terrifying than the thought of seeing all of your work altered or entirely wiped out by a nefarious hacker? We see data breaches and hacks in the news all the time. And you may think, why would someone come after my small business website? But hacks don’t just happen to the big guys. One report found that small businesses were the victims of 43% of all data breaches.  You’ve worked hard on your website (and your brand) – so it’s important to take the time to protect it with these basic hacker protection tips. 5 Easy Steps to Secure Your Website from Hackers You may have worried when starting this post that it would be full of technical jargon that your average website owner would find baffling. Some of our tips further down do get technical, and you may want to bring in your developer for those. But there are a few things you can do on your own first that don’t involve that much technical know-how.  Step #1: Install security plugins. If you built your website with a content management system (CMS) , you can enhance your website security with plugins that actively prevent website hacking attempts. Each of the main CMS options have security plugins available, many of them for free. Security plugins for WordPress: iThemes Security  Bulletproof Security  Sucuri Wordfence fail2Ban Security options for Magento: Amasty Watchlog Pro MageFence Security extensions for Joomla: JHackGuard jomDefender RSFirewall Antivirus Website Protection These options address the security vulnerabilities that are inherent in each platform, foiling additional types of hacking attempts that could threaten your website. In addition, all websites – whether you’re running a CMS-managed site or HTML pages – can benefit from considering SiteLock .  SiteLock goes above and beyond simply closing site security loopholes by providing daily monitoring for everything from malware detection to vulnerability identification to active virus scanning and more. If your business relies on its website, SiteLock is definitely an investment worth considering. Note: Our Managed WordPress hosting plan has SiteLock built in, along with other features to help secure your site. Step #2: Use HTTPS As a consumer, you may already know to always look for the green lock image and https in your browser bar any time you provide sensitive information to a website. Those five little letters are an important shorthand for hacker security: they signal that it’s safe to provide financial information on that particular webpage. An SSL certificate is important because it secures the transfer of information – such as credit cards, personal data, and contact information – between your website and the server. While an SSL certificate has always been essential for ecommerce websites, having one has recently become important for all websites. In July 2018,  Google Chrome released a security update that alerts website visitors if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate installed. That makes visitors more likely to bounce, even if your website doesn’t collect sensitive information.  Search engines are taking website security more seriously than ever because they want users to have a positive and safe experience browsing the web. Taking the commitment to security further, a search engine may rank your website lower in search results if you don’t have an SSL certificate. What does that mean for you? If you want people to trust your brand, you need to invest in an SSL certificate . The cost of an SSL certificate is minimal, but the extra level of encryption it offers to your customers goes a long way to making your website more secure and trustworthy. At HostGator, we also take website security seriously, but most importantly, we want to make it easy for you to be secure. All HostGator web hosting packages come with a free SSL certificate. The SSL certificate will be automatically applied to your account, but you do need to take a few steps to install the free SSL certificate on your website.  Step #3: Keep your website platform and software up-to-date Using a CMS with various useful plugins and extensions offers a lot of benefits, but it also brings risk. The leading cause of website infections is vulnerabilities in a content management system’s extensible components.  Because many of these tools are created as open-source software programs, their code is easily accessible – to both good-intentioned developers as well as malicious hackers. Hackers can pore over this code, looking for security vulnerabilities that allow them to take control of your website by exploiting any platform or script weaknesses. To protect your website from being hacked, always make sure your content management system, plugins, apps, and any scripts you’ve installed are up-to-date.  If you’re running a website built on WordPress, you can check whether you’re up to date quickly when logging into your WordPress dashboard. Look for the update icon in the top left corner next to your site name. Click the number to access your WordPress Updates. Step #4: Make sure your passwords are secure This one seems simple, but it’s so important. It’s tempting to go with a password you know will always be easy for you to remember. That’s why the #1 most common password is still 123456. You have to do better than that – a lot better than that to prevent login attempts from hackers and other outsiders. Make the effort to figure out a truly secure password (or use HostGator’s password generator).  Make it long. Use a mix of special characters, numbers, and letters. And steer clear of potentially easy-to-guess keywords like your birthday or kid’s name. If a hacker somehow gains access to other information about you, they’ll know to guess those first. Holding yourself to a high standard for password security is step one. You also need to make sure everyone who has access to your website has similarly strong passwords. One weak password within your team can make your website susceptible to a data breach , so set expectations with everyone who has access. Institute requirements for all website users in terms of length and types of characters. If your employees want to use easy passwords for their less secure accounts, that’s their business. But when it comes to your website, it’s your business (literally) and you can hold them to a higher standard.  Step #5: Invest in automatic backups. Even if you do everything else on this list, you still face some risk. The worst-case scenario of a website hack is to lose everything because you forgot to back your website up. The best way to protect yourself is to make sure you always have a recent backup. While a data breach will be stressful no matter what, when you have a current backup, recovering is much easier. You can make a habit out of manually backing your website up daily or weekly. But if there’s even the slightest chance you’ll forget, invest in automatic backups . It’s a cheap way to buy peace of mind.  5 Advanced Steps to Secure Your Website from Hackers All of the above steps are relatively painless, even for website owners with minimal technical experience. This second half of the list gets a little more complicated, and you may want to call a developer or IT consultant to help you out.  Step #6: Take precautions when accepting file uploads through your site. When anyone has the option to upload something to your website, they could abuse the privilege by loading a malicious file, overwriting one of the existing files important to your website, or uploading a file so large it brings your whole website down.  If possible, simply don’t accept any file uploads through your website. Many small business websites can get by without offering the option of file uploads at all. If that describes you, you can skip everything else in this step.   But eliminating file uploads isn’t an option for all websites. Some types of businesses, like accountants or healthcare providers, need to give customers a way to securely provide documents.  If you need to allow file uploads, take a few steps to make sure you protect yourself: Create a whitelist of allowed file extensions. By specifying which types of files you’ll accept, you keep suspicious file types out. Use file type verification. Hackers try to sneakily get around whitelist filters by renaming documents with a different extension than the document type actually is, or adding dots or spaces to the filename.  Set a maximum file size. Avoid distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by rejecting any files over a certain size.  Scan files for malware. Use antivirus software to check all files before opening. Automatically rename files upon upload. Hackers won’t be able to re-access their file if it has a different name when they go looking for it.  Keep the upload folder outside of the webroot. This keeps hackers from being able to access your website through the file they upload. These steps can remove most of the vulnerabilities inherent in allowing file uploads to your website.  Step #7: Use parameterized queries SQL injections are one of the most common website hacks many sites fall victim to. SQL injections can come into play if you have a web form or URL parameter that allows outside users to supply information. If you leave the parameters of the field too open, someone could insert code into them that allows access to your database. It’s important to protect your site from this because of the amount of sensitive customer information that can be held in your database. There are a number of steps you can take to protect your website from SQL injection hacks; one of the most important and easiest to implement is the use of parameterized queries. Using parameterized queries ensures your code has specific enough parameters so that there’s no room for a hacker to mess with them. Step #8: Use CSP Cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks are another common threat site owners have to be on the lookout for. Hackers find a way to slip malicious JavaScript code onto your pages, which can then infect the device of any website visitors exposed to the code. Part of the fight to protect your site from XSS attacks is similar to the parameterized queries for SQL injections. Make sure any code you use on your website for functions or fields that allow input are as explicit as possible in what’s allowed, so you’re not leaving room for anything to slip in. Content Security Policy (CSP) is another handy tool that can help protect your site from XSS. CSP allows you to specify which domains a browser should consider valid sources of executable scripts when on your page. The browser will then know not to pay attention to any malicious script or malware that might infect your site visitor’s computer. Using CSP involves adding the proper HTTP header to your webpage that provides a string of directives that tells the browser which domains are ok and any exceptions to the rule.  You can find details on crafting CSP headers for your website here . Step #9: Lock down your directory and file permissions All websites can be boiled down to a series of files and folders that are stored on your web hosting account.  Besides containing all of the scripts and data needed to make your website work, each of these files and folders is assigned a set of permissions that controls who can read, write, and execute any given file or folder, relative to the user they are or the group to which they belong. On the Linux operating system, permissions are viewable as a three-digit code where each digit is an integer between 0-7. The first digit represents permissions for the owner of the file, the second for anyone assigned to the group that owns the file, and the third for everyone else.  The assignations work as follows: 4 equals Read 2 equals Write 1 equals Execute 0 equals no permissions for that user As an example, take the permission code “644.”  In this case, a “6” (or “4+2”) in the first position gives the file’s owner the ability to read and write the file.  The “4” in the second and third positions means that both group users and internet users at large can read the file only – protecting the file from unexpected manipulations. So, a file with “777” (or 4+2+1 / 4+2+1 / 4+2+1) permissions is readable, write-able, and executable by the user, the group, and everyone else in the world. As you might expect, a file that is assigned a permission code that gives anyone on the web the ability to write and execute it is much less secure than one which has been locked down in order to reserve all rights for the owner alone.  Of course, there are valid reasons to open up access to other groups of users (anonymous FTP upload, as one example), but these instances must be carefully considered in order to avoid creating a website security risk. For this reason, a good rule of thumb is to set your permissions as follows: Folders and directories = 755 Individual files = 644 To set your file permissions, log in to your cPanel’s File Manager or connect to your server via FTP.  Once inside, you’ll see a list of your existing file permissions (as in the following example generated using the Filezilla FTP program): The final column in this example displays the folder and file permissions currently assigned to the website’s content.  To change these permissions in Filezilla, simply right click the folder or file in question and select the “File permissions” option.  Doing so will launch a screen that allows you to assign different permissions using a series of checkboxes: Although your web host’s or FTP program’s backend might look slightly different, the basic process for changing permissions remains the same. Our support portal has solutions for how to modify your folder and file permissions . #10 Keep your error messages simple (but still helpful).  Detailed error messages can be helpful internally to help you identify what’s going wrong so you know how to fix it. But when those error messages are displayed to outside visitors, they can reveal sensitive information that tells a potential hacker exactly where your website’s vulnerabilities are.  Be very careful what information you provide in an error message, so you’re not providing information that helps a bad actor hack you. Keep your error messages simple enough that they don’t inadvertently reveal too much. But avoid ambiguity as well , so your visitors can still learn enough information from the error message to know what to do next.  Protecting Your Website from Hackers Securing your site and learning how to protect against hackers is a big part of keeping your site healthy and safe in the long run! Don’t procrastinate taking these important steps.  At HostGator, we have created a set of custom mod security rules to aid in the protection of your website. If you’re looking for a new hosting provider, you can click here to sign up for a great deal. For new accounts, we’ll even transfer you for free! After you’ve created an account, you just need to fill out the form here . Don’t worry about getting tripped up in the process. HostGator has world-class support available around the clock! Our customer support specialists are available 24/7/365 via email ticket, chat, or phone. We can help you get secure! Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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Does Your Small Business Website Have the Cybersecurity Basics Covered?

The post Does Your Small Business Website Have the Cybersecurity Basics Covered? appeared first on HostGator Blog . Think your business is too small to be targeted by hackers? Think again. Last year, 43% of all reported data breaches affected small businesses —and the costs of recovering from a breach are high enough to force many small businesses to close. So, if you’ve recently launched your SMB website or are getting ready to launch, make sure you’ve got these 8 cybersecurity basics nailed down. 1. Domain Privacy There are so many things to love about the internet, but spammers, identity thieves, and stalkers are not among them. You can protect yourself with a domain privacy plan that shields your name, email, mailing address, and phone number from people who look up your site in the ICANN’s Whois database.  2. SSL Certificate An SSL certificate is a must-have if you run an eCommerce store or collect visitor information on your site. That’s because an SSL certificate proves that any data your visitors send to your site is encrypted, so hackers can’t see it while it’s in transit. (You can read a more detailed SSL explanation here.) SSL certificates also keep visitors from seeing a browser warning that your site may not be secure. Plus, they may also help your site rank better in search results. 3. Automatic Site Backups If your business website site is hacked, or if an update crashes it, you need a way to get up and running again fast so you don’t miss out on customers. Get an automatic site backup service like CodeGuard , and you can quickly restore the most recent uncorrupted version of your site if something goes wrong. Make sure that whichever service you choose runs daily backups, so you don’t have to go back to an out-of-date site version in case of a crash.  4. Automatic Malware Scans and Removals Thanks to cybercriminals armed with botnets and malicious code, all sites are continuously at risk for malware injections that can steal data and let criminals take over sites. This means site owners need to monitor their sites closely for attacks. And the only practical way to do this is with automatic scans. A site-scanning tool like SiteLock gives you daily protection from new malware and botnet attacks. SiteLock also seeks out vulnerabilities on your site, so you can fix them before hackers exploit them. 5. Automatic Domain Renewals Domain registrations don’t last forever. At some point—anywhere between one and 5 years from when you first sign up–you’ll need to renew. If you don’t, you can lose control of your business domain name, and anyone who comes along and buys up your expired domain may be able to access the email accounts on it. That could open you and your customers up to data theft and fraud. The best way to prevent this is to enable automatic renewals, either when you register your domains or during your next renewal. You may also be able to switch to automatic renewals now by logging into your domain registration account and adjusting your billing preferences. (HostGator customers, here’s how you can renew your domain registration.) 6. Automatic WordPress, Plugin and Theme Updates On the internet, you have to stay up to date. That includes WordPress software and the plugins, themes, and addons you choose for your SMB site. Why not stick with the old versions if they’re working for you? There are lots of reasons, but the main one is security.  Some updates are designed to patch flaws that hackers have shown they can exploit. So, when updates are announced, you need to install them right away. But updates don’t always come out on a schedule, and if you have a large site with lots of plugins, updating manually can be a hassle that’s too easy to postpone. The solution is to set WordPress and everything else on your site—themes, plugins, etc.—to update automatically. You can do this within most apps, or you can use a WordPress security plugin like Easy Updates Manager to handle it all for you. 7. Seriously Secure Passwords One of the simplest ways to protect your SMB website is to use a unique, secure WordPress password that would-be hackers are unlikely to guess. Make sure that any employees or contractors who have access to your site use secure, unique passwords, too.  You might think this goes without saying, but even in 2019, too many people are still using passwords like 123456 , monkey, and blink182. 8. Site Login Protection Login forms on your site make it easy for customers to sign into their accounts with your store or business. These forms also create potential weak spots where attackers can break in. In simple terms, a bot-powered brute force attack can try thousands of possible login credentials to try to get past a login form. If they find a way in, they can unleash malware, ransomware, or other mayhem to disrupt your business. To keep bad actors and botnet attacks from experimenting with logins until they find a way in, add some layers of protection to your sign-in forms.  One option is to limit the number of login attempts a user can make in one session. For example, after three failed attempts, the user is locked out of trying again until they contact your tech support team for more guidance. This lets legitimate customers get the help they need and prevents bot-powered brute force logins. Another option is one you probably see every day. Ask visitors to prove they’re not a robot when they sign in with a reCAPTCHA tool. The Contact Form 7 plugin lets you enable reCAPTCHA , or you can install a different reCAPTCHA plugin for the forms on your site. Yes, it’s an extra step for your site visitors, but one that can keep your visitors and your business safe from bot-powered data theft. Now that you know the cybersecurity basics, are you ready to set up your site?  HostGator’s Managed WordPress Hosting plans come with CodeGuard, SiteLock, and SSL certificates for free and make it easy to buy domain privacy services. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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Email: Still the Best Tool for Growing Your Business

The post Email: Still the Best Tool for Growing Your Business appeared first on HostGator Blog . It’s tempting to focus on social media instead of email for marketing when you’re starting a business. Social media is cool and fun, and email seems kind of stale by comparison. It’s also a lot easier to set up social media accounts than it is to build and manage an email list. But email still rules in terms of return on marketing investment, so if you want to grow your business, email needs to be part of your marketing mix. Why Does Email Marketing Still Work? One reason email rules is because it reaches virtually everyone. Sure, there are plenty of people on social media, but not everyone uses the same platforms, and some folks don’t use social media at all. But do you know anyone who doesn’t use email? Do you ever go more than 24 hours without checking your email? Probably not—and email is email, no matter which operating system or email service provider you use. What about Gen Z? Do teenagers even use email anymore? According to a study by OptinMonster , 75% of teenagers consider email part of their daily lives. The study also found that overall, 99% of people check their email every day. Fifty-eight percent check it first thing in the morning, a much higher number than the 14% who check social media first. And it’s not just that people check their email. People engage with marketing emails at a much higher rate than they do social media posts, according to the study. The average open rate for marketing emails is more than 22% and the click-through rate is 3.7%. The average engagement rate for posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is less than 0.6%. Why does email get so much more engagement? In part, recipients are more likely to see email than social posts. An email sits in the inbox until it’s opened or dismissed. But a post may not even show up in someone’s feed, and if it does, it competes with a steady stream of other posts, comments, and links to other media. Broad reach and high engagement contribute to email’s high ROI — $38 for each dollar spent on email marketing , according to the Direct Marketing Association. Over the past ten years, email has outperformed every other marketing channel, from search and social to affiliate programs and display ads. 7 Steps to Making Email Work for Your Business Okay, so you’re convinced that email is a worthwhile part of your small business marketing program. How do you begin? Here are the basic steps. 1. Choose your email marketing software Building and growing a list is not a DIY affair. You’ll want to choose a service like Constant Contact to manage list opt-ins, segment your list, create campaigns, and measure their effectiveness. You can sign up for a free trial to test the features before you choose a subscription plan. 2. Get people to join your list Make your list worth joining. Your opt-in forms should offer something your target audience wants, whether that’s a coupon code, a free gift, a free report to help them solve a problem, or something else appealing. It’s also a good idea to let people know how often you email. People sometimes avoid joining lists because they’re worried about getting emails every day. Your offer can overcome that objection. For example, “Get 10% off your first purchase. Sign up for our weekly email list.” 3. Take care of your list Not every customer who joins your list will be interested in the same offers, products, or services. That’s why it’s important to segment your list. Rather than send one-size-fits-all messages to every list member, you can create separate messages for each segment, to deliver what they’re looking for. Segmentation is important for personalizing offers, which we’ll get to in a bit. Constant Contact lets you refine your list segments by automatically grouping your list based on the links they click in your emails, so your information is always evolving and up to date. Make opting out easy. One-click opt out is the gold standard. It keeps your list members from getting frustrated and reporting your messages as spam, which can reduce your delivery rates. 4. Connect with customers in their inbox Your messages will get more opens, click-throughs, and conversions if they deliver what your list members want. You can personalize offers to segments and even individual customers based on their past purchases, seasonal needs, and the links they’ve clicked on in your previous emails. For example, send preview-sale emails in March to your customers who buy new swimsuits every spring. Or send your premium dog food customers monthly offers for the newest treats and toys. Customers who clicked on your bespoke bags in your last campaign can get a follow up offer on those items later in the week. You can add graphics and videos to your emails to keep readers’ eyes on the page and to showcase your products. Be sure to test your multimedia messages before you send them to make sure they’ll look good in your customers’ inboxes. 5. Test your campaigns Use your email marketing service’s A/B testing tools to see which subject lines, content, and offers get the best responses from your list members. Use that information to make your next campaigns more effective. 6. Monitor your metrics Watch your email service dashboard for each campaign to see how many opens, clicks, and unsubscribes it gets. You’ll also see the peak days and times for email opens so you can time your future campaigns more precisely. Link your email service to your Google Analytics dashboard so you can track visitors who arrive from your email links, what types of devices they use to visit, and where they go on your site, and whether they convert. 7. Refine and repeat Email marketing is a process that should get easier and more effective over time. Use your data from past campaigns, your dashboards, and feedback from your customers to continuously improve your messaging—and your ROI. Ready to grow your business? Get started with Constant Contact today. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List in 10 Simple Steps

The post How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List in 10 Simple Steps appeared first on HostGator Blog . Email marketing is one of the most effective types of digital marketing. Two-thirds of consumers say they’ve made a purchase because of an email they received, and the average ROI of email marketing is $38 for every $1 spent. But for your business to see results like that, you need an email list. And not one you bought. Paying for an email list isn’t a good way to reach people who will actually care about what you have to say. And according to spam laws, it’s also illegal. What you need is an email list you built — one that’s made up of people who chose to opt in because they care about what you have to say. Email subscribers that chose you are extremely valuable, but hard to find. To build and grow a strong email list, you need a strategy for promoting it. There are a lot of smart techniques you can use to get more email subscribers . A good option that many overlook is using Facebook ads. 5 Benefits of Using Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List Obviously Facebook ads have a cost in both time and money, so you want to be confident this is a tactic that makes sense for you. Facebook advertising has some strong benefits to offer. 1. It’s where your audience is. “Go where your audience is” is marketing 101. Today, that means Facebook. Even with recent scandals that put the social media network in the headlines, tons of people use Facebook.  The platform has over 2 billion monthly active users and many of those users are on there every day.  In the U.S., the average person spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook. Facebook is such a ubiquitous part of our lives at this point that no matter who your target audience is, you can trust that they’re hanging out on Facebook. 2. Facebook doesn’t offer much organic reach. Anyone can create a Facebook page for their business for free, so you may figure you should just work on reaching your audience on the platform that way.  But over the last couple of years, Facebook has made changes that make it increasingly difficult for business pages to gain followers and for the followers they have to see those updates. That doesn’t mean it’s a waste to create a Facebook page and work on building followers to it, but on its own, that won’t get you very far. To really gain traction on Facebook now, you have to pay for ads. 3. You can reach people in your target audience. If that’s the bad news, this is the good news. By paying for Facebook exposure, you tap into the company’s powerful targeting options. Your ad won’t show up indiscriminately for all of Facebook’s billions of users, you can specify who you want to see it based on factors like demographic categories, interests, and behaviors. 4. You can reach them at the right moment. The marketing ideal is reaching the right person with the right message at the right moment. Facebook’s targeting options include controlling the timing of when you reach people. If the items you sell would make great gifts, you can target your ads to people with an anniversary coming up. If your business blog provides travel tips, you can target people currently planning a vacation. While the goal of an email list is to build an ongoing relationship with potential customers, you can still increase sign ups by ensuring your promotion shows up right when people will most value what you offer. 5. Remarketing converts people who already showed an interest in your brand. A lot of people will interact with your brand multiple times before they make the decision to sign up for your email list. If someone visits your website and never sees mention of you again, they’re likely to forget you completely. But with remarketing, you can serve ads to the people that have already interacted with your brand in some capacity, increasing the chance that they’ll take the step of signing up for your email list before you slip from their memory. How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow Your Email List in 10 Steps Now that you know the why, here are a few tips to help with the how. 1. Develop an email marketing plan. Before you get to the point of using Facebook advertising to grow your list, you need to figure out what you’re going to do with your email list . There’s no point in working to gain subscribers if you’re not ready to follow that up with work to keep them. Create a plan for the types of emails you’ll send out and the schedule you’ll send them out on. You may want to create an email newsletter that goes out every month, or plan on sending a weekly update that includes links to the new content on your site. You can send out more directly promotional emails as well, but don’t make that all you ever do.  Promotional emails work best if the recipient is already familiar with your brand and has a reason to trust you. Your other emails will help build that trust. 2. Select “Lead Generation” as your campaign objective. One of the first steps to creating an ad in Facebook is choosing your campaign objective. After you click the Create button , you’ll see a few options you can choose from in a dropdown menu. Since your primary goal is building an email list, select “Lead Generation.” This ensures that the options Facebook provides as you go through the steps of creating your ads will match up with your goal of collecting email addresses from people in your target audience. 3. Clarify your target audience. One of the next steps is to set up your audience targeting. Facebook allows advertisers to narrow down who will see your ads based on wide variety of factors, including:      Geographic location      Age range      Gender      The language(s) they speak      Education level      Relationship status      The type of work they do      Their financial status      Whether they have kids or not      Their political preferences      Their interests      Their online behaviors      Whether they’ve interacted with you before Think about what your ideal customer looks like. Use this step to clarify who you want to reach with your ads so you get the most bang for your buck. 4. Choose what information to collect. You definitely want to collect email addresses — that’s the main goal here, after all. But Facebook will let you choose additional information to ask for in your ads, such as:   First name   Last name   City   Phone number   Date of birth   Job title   Company name On the one hand, the more information you ask for, the better you’ll be able to provide relevant emails to your new subscribers. On the other hand, adding more required fields for people to fill in before signing up may lose you some leads who decide it’s too much work. Most businesses should be fine sticking with name and email address, only add the others if they’ll help you create more useful, segmented lists. 5. Set your budget. Figure out what you can afford. You can set a maximum daily budget, and select whether to bid manually on your ads or let Facebook do automatic bidding for you. Automatic bidding is generally the best choice for anyone that’s not already an expert in PPC advertising . Keep in mind that the more you’re able to spend, the more people will see and interact with your ads. Try not to be too stingy here, while staying within a budget you can handle. 6. Create eye-catching images for your ads. Now it’s time to create the ads themselves. Social media is a visual medium, so make sure you include an image (or several) in your ad that will attract your audience’s attention, while still being relevant to what you’re offering. 7. Write copy that emphasizes the benefits of subscribing. An image can’t tell the whole story, so couple it with words that tell your audience what they’ll get out of subscribing to your email list. Make sure you focus on the benefits to them. It may be accurate that signing up means learning more about your brand and products, but that won’t convince most people. What problems will your emails help them solve? How will you make their lives easier or better? 8. Include a clear call to action (CTA). You want them to take an action, so tell them what to do. You can test out different language to use here, but be sure you explicitly ask people to “Sign up today” or “Subscribe now.” Facebook will provide some options for you to choose from here. 9. Set up a relevant email drip campaign for new subscribers. Every time someone subscribes, it’s a win! But it could quickly turn into a loss if you don’t manage to keep them. One of the best ways to convince new subscribers that you’re worth sticking with is to set up a series of welcome emails that automatically go out to new subscribers. Use these initial emails to explain to your subscribers what they can expect from your email list, make the case for why it’s worth sticking around, and provide them a reward of some sort for joining (such as a discount offer or exclusive content). Providing value right away while the decision to sign up is still fresh in their memory will give you the chance to establish the relationship and show them you’re worth their time. 10. Test and tweak. You won’t know what will get results until you get started. Pay attention to your analytics — both for Facebook and your emails — to learn what’s working. Test out different images, copy, and CTAs to see what your audience responds to best. Over time, you’ll learn more about your target audience — what they respond to and what they care about. That knowledge will enable you to run better ads, strengthen your email marketing campaigns, and provide better service to your customers. Find the post on the HostGator Blog Continue reading

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