September 13, 2011
Does the thought of developing a marketing plan or marketing budget stress you out? Sometimes it feels as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to create and improve upon your current product and services. The added layer of getting out the word about them can seem burdensome to any entrepreneur. If so, it’s time to put your website to work.
The brilliant thing about online business is this: while you may need eight hours of sleep each night, your website never gets tired. Once you put several key elements into place, your site will run the new additions seamlessly in the background. The adjustments can effortlessly display your marketing messages to prospects – even while you’re snoozing.
Here are five can’t-miss tools that will help you do exactly that.
1. Get the most marketing mileage out of your web presence with WordPress.
Make sure your site is built on a self-hosted WordPress platform. Contrary to popular belief, WordPress is not just for bloggers. Case in point: People Magazine and the Wall Street Journal are WordPress sites. If you work with a skilled WordPress designer, you can get a look and feel that’s uniquely your own.
But more importantly, there are thousands of free “plugins” for WordPress that allow you to add powerful functionalities to your site in a matter of minutes. These plugins allow you to create a “set it and forget it” experience when it comes to online marketing.
2. Make an announcement that can’t be missed with, Hello Bar.
When you need to draw people’s attention to something pronto, Hello Bar is where it’s at. Used by marketing hotshots like Tim Ferris and Gary Vaynerchuk, Hello Bar is a horizontal bar that sits at the very top of your site and displays a line of text (and links) of your choosing.
You can use the Hello Bar to funnel people to a signup page, link out to a published article on a big-name site, and so on. It’s less obtrusive than a popup, but still gets noticed. It’s perfect for advertising an offer that’s expiring soon or for telling the world about your latest product. Hello Bar is a cinch to configure. Just sign up for a free account, and the Hello Bar plugin for WordPress will do the rest.
3. Build your subscriber list around the clock with the WWSGD plugin.
WWSGD stands for “What Would Seth Godin Do” – and it’s an invaluable tool for turning first-time visitors into future customers. The WWSGD plugin places a box at the top or bottom of every page or blog post on your site. As with the Hello Bar, it’s up to you what content you feature in the box, but it’s most often used to invite people to sign up to your newsletter or subscribe to your RSS feed. You can even show one message to new visitors and another to returning visitors, for more targeted relationship-building.
To set up WWSGD, just install the plugin, head on over to the plugin settings page, and type in your desired text, along with links to your RSS feed and/or your opt-in page. Without WWSGD, your readers won’t get the prompt they may need to compel them to sign up to your list or start following your feed – so they could visit once and never come back.
4. Turn visitors into your personal sales force with the AddToAny plugin.
The key to creating content that spreads like wildfire online is to make it a) good and b) easily shareable. Remember: Generally people are lazy — the best way to circumvent this is to give them a straightforward tool to re-post your stuff on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites.
The AddToAny plugin for WordPress gives your visitors the chance to share, save, and bookmark your content in tons of different ways – including by email. When people finish reading your post or page, a handy little line of icons is there to remind them to share or save it, if they so please. The end result? You get more people circulating your content around the web – and you didn’t even have to lift a finger.
5. Blast your carefully-crafted messages out via Twitter using ClickToTweet.
It’s great when people tweet about your brand and its offerings – but it’s even better when you can control the content in those messages. To ensure your visitors tweet about you using the keywords and hashtags you want them to use, there’s ClickToTweet.
ClickToTweet lets you pre-write tweets that your visitors can share with just one click. To use this free service, just go to http://clicktotweet.com/, and type your tweet in the box. If you’re including a link back to your site (which you probably want to do), be sure to use a URL shortening service such as https://bitly.com/ to maximize the amount of space you have to work with in the tweet. Finally, click “generate link”, and you’ll be given a link that looks something like this: http://clicktotweet.com/4507f.
The last piece of the puzzle is to put the link on your site, so that people can use it. My favorite method? Create a graphic that says “click to tweet about X” (where “X” is your product, service, or brand), and link the graphic to the ClickToTweet link. When someone clicks your link, or graphic, they’ll automatically be taken to a page that lets them post the tweet to their Twitter account. No effort required on their part – and you reap the rewards.
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Amanda Aitken is an incurable entrepreneur and the founder of The Girl’s Guide to Web Design, a one-of-a-kind online course that teaches women to ditch their fear of code, unleash their inner designer and create an awe-inspiring blog or site with solid training in graphic design, HTML and CSS. Intrigued? You can grab “Chapter 0” of The Girl’s Guide to Web Design for free here – or connect with Amanda on Twitter or Facebook.