Category: Blog Feature

Future Bright How To Start An Online Business

Start Selling Online – Fast and Low Cost – Wendy’s Recommendations

Start Selling Online Fast

Time Needed:  3-5 hours – tasks can be completed at any time of day.

This page will tell you exactly how to quickly start an online business. On April 8, 2020, the New York Times wrote an article titled, Tiny E-Merchants May Be Huge For Local Economies.  Small e-commerce businesses pull cash into local economies, and may be key to the recovery that can begin now when you start or move your business online.  Your idea, product, or service is CRITICAL to your local economy’s repair, so go for it!  You should do the steps in this exact order.

Instructions:  Follow the below steps, and record your account and other information in the document provided below by clicking on the red button “Get The Checklist”.  If you are unable to print, record your information in a notebook following the format in the document.  Take a photograph of your pages in case you lose the notebook.

Dear You,

I believe that the world needs your ideas, and that the small businesses that emerge from solutions like yours will rebuild our economy.

All my love,

Wendy Louise Nog, Founder
Future Bright Digital
wendy@futurebrightdigital.com
415-275-0970

Recommended Mobile Apps:

WordSwag – adds text to images

iMovie – can crop video & add sound

MixCaptions – adds captions to video

Recommended Tools:

Zoom – Video Conferencing

THE STEPS

1. Choose A Business Name, Register A Domain Name – $20

  • GoDaddy – do not purchase anything else no matter how hard they try to sell it to you

2. Create All Three Core Payment Accounts – Free to set up

Note:  If you do not have a Tax ID for your business, use your personal social security number and bank account until you do.  Set up is free. They will take a 2-3% chunk of each sale.

3.  Products & Prices – Identify just a few – start small

  • Product Name
  • Problem Product Solves
  • Product Description
  • How To use
  • Price

4.  Write your Content:  Images & Text

Don’t spend more than an hour working on this content.  You can always change it later.

  • Images:  A logo is good to have but can come later
  • Images:  Select a main image to use on social media profiles
  • Images:  Select one or more images for each product.  Start with just a few products.
  • Identify Keywords & Phrases:  What will people be searching for when they find you?*
  • Paragraph About Your Business:  Describe Your Products Generally In One Paragraph:  What problem do they solve and how your products make people feel.
  • Paragraph About You:  What inspired you to create this product?   Tell your story in one or two paragraphs

5.  Create A MailChimp Account – Free up to 2000 subscribers

Mailchimp will be used to collect email addresses of people who want to hear from you.  You will be able to send out newsletters, special offers, and more!

6.  Create the following Social Profiles – Free

7. Create An Online Store (Website)

Be sure to add links to your social media profiles and connect your MailChimp account to the platform.

  • Shopify – for manufactured products like bags, clothing – $30/month
  • Etsy – For items made by hand by you – about $.20 per product listing
  • Square – Not Pretty But Functional Website – Free
  • BentoBox – For food & restaurants – $79-$150 – Call Future Bright For Deal
  • Wix Store – sell anything – $30/month
  • Teachable – Online Courses – $29/month
  • Affiliate (sell other people’s products)  Free WordPress.com site*
  • DO NOT use GoDaddy website builder

*To create an affiliate site, you sign up with affiliate programs, and then put links that are made for you onto your website.  You do not need to take payment, the businesses who provide the links for you will handle all transactions.

You Can Start Selling!

8.  Promote your product(s)

  • Share to your personal Facebook/Instagram pages – Free
  • Share on Facebook/Instagram business pages – Free
  • Facebook Ads – Can spend $20+
  • Google Ads – Wide range from $20-$10,000/month

Note:  Manage Your Reviews

Testimonials and reviews are an important part of the customer journey.  It is important that you respond to reviews, and encourage ongoing dialog between yourself and your customers. The below platforms are the main hosts of reviews used by customers:

  • Yelp
  • Google My Business

**Information About Keywords & Phrases

Your content should be written with this in mind:  searches people make on search engines generally fall into three main categories:  Informational (just looking for info), Navigational (trying to find a specific entity or place), Transactional (ready to buy).  To boost your ranking, you should identify key phrases used in those three categories where your business could appear, and then incorporate them into your content.

Example Business:  Ceramic Baking Dish Maker

Informational Search:  “Best apples to use in apple pie”

Navigational Search:  “Baking Tools Store Nearby”

Transactional Search:  “Apple Pie Pan”

Wendy Plan For Pandemic

Plan for enduring the COVID-19 Pandemic

A plan and a timeline.

If you are like me, you need a plan.  I felt so confused and uncertain about even how each day would end until I sat down and marked out a timeline for the virus to run its course.  There are many unknowns, but there are enough knowns to create a general outline.  I recorded a video explaining that plan, and a printable document for you to hang on your wall, share with your children, and use as a guide during this very disorienting time.

Print The Timeline

Probable timeline for the covid-19 pandemic

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR FAMILY AND OTHERS

Each day new information emerges about this virus.  It is now believed to be airborne, and also that you can be a carrier and have no idea or symptoms.   It is critical that you wear a protective covering over your nose and mouth.  This may protect you from getting sick, but most importantly, if you are sick and do not know it, will protect others.

  • wear some sort of face covering/ mask at all times when out, to prevent yourself from touching your face, and at home if someone is sick,
  • sanitize and wash your hands obsessively and multiple times while out, after touching anything, anyone and before entering your home, and while you are at home because soap destroys a virus,
  • sanitize objects that you bring into your home, and
  • stay six feet away from everyone outside of your home.
  • watch my video on how to shop safely.

Source:  Dr. David Price, a critical care pulmonologist caring for COVID-19 patients -Weill Cornell Hospital.  He explains how not to get sick, what to do if you are sick, and how to protect yourself and family if a house member is sick.  Watch The Video.

RESOURCES:

U . S. Government COVID – 19 Response Plan
Spread and Seasonality for COVID-19
CDC – Cases in the US
Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team Report

HuffPost – When Will Life Return to Normal? The Answer From Europe Is Emerging

We Will Rise

How To Not Get Sick – And What To Do If You Are

Theme Song

Predicted Infection Rate In The US

Corona Virus Chart
Chart Source: Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team – New York Times
Future Bright Wendy and kids

The Corona Virus – What Happens Next

Future Bright Wendy and kids
Pretending to drive to school! Keeping a sense of normalcy.

To my friends and colleagues:

March 17, 2020.  My three kids and two dogs and I are now sheltered in place in Mill Valley, CA and I have stocked up enough food so that we do not need to go out in public for up to a month. We will be walking the dogs, and taking walks in the woods, but otherwise not going into any establishments. My digital and website design clients are checking in with me, needing to post information about their hours onto their site, inform me that they are completely closing, or brainstorming on how to stay open. Now that we are globally realizing that we need to just stay home, the question is, what happens next.

There are three ways for a pandemic to end. Either when 60-70% of the population has been infected and recovered so there are no carriers left and so that the virus dies off (herd immunity), the virus mutates, or if a vaccine is created.

We are a year and a half away from a safe vaccine, so most likely we are facing herd immunity. The govt and experts know that they can’t change the number of people who are sick they can only try to slow the rate of infection. They are trying to spread the infection rate out over a longer period of time because hospitals will not be able to handle the influx and we don’t have enough respirators. This means that you should expect to get sick. Or someone in your household will likely get sick.

The chart below shows the probable curve of infection with the varying responses we may have.  Provided by the New York Times.

Corona Virus ChartNow that we are all stocked up in food and staying home, the next step is planning for when someone in your home gets sick including yourself. There are instructions for how to clean your home and care for an infected person. The link is below. You definitely want to have Clorox bleach or Lysol at the ready. The CDC listed cleaners that are effective. I have posted it below. Symptom relief will also need to be a consideration. It is likely that we will be at home for far longer than a month.

Herd Immunity: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/coronavirus-can-herd-immunity-really-protect-us

Caring for someone with the virus: https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2020/what-you-should-do-if-caring-for-someone-with-coronavirus.html
“anyone with a cough or high temperature should stay at home for seven days, keeping away from other people, including those in your home if you can. This applies to everyone, regardless of whether they have travelled abroad.”

Cleaning products that can be used: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/heres-the-epas-list-of-over-300-coronavirus-fighting-cleaning-products-2020-03-08

I wish you all a safe journey, and I look forward to being able to throw open the door of my favorite cafe.

Future Bright Attends TedX Marin Event

The 2020 TEDx New Year Community Gathering

Fabrique Delices – French Artisanal CHARCUTERIE  fabriquedelices.com/

Our favorite table – duck prosciutto?  Yes, totally insane…ly delicious!

A festival of solutions!

As it is each year, there was an incredibly wide range of businesses showcasing their products and services.  It is just amazing to me how creative the human mind is, and to see the investment of time and energy that people put into their passions.  Participating businesses ranged from mini-homes to zero waste school products. This was a showcase of solutions.  Here are a few of my favorite booths!

Future Bright - Wendy Louise Nog
Wendy Louise Nog - Future Bright Founder, Digital Strategist

No Chocolate?!?

After recovering from the initial shock of learning that there was not a table that had chocolate,  Sandra Busta (our logo designer) and I headed for the wine counter to order a glass of chardonnay (for me) and cranberry juice (for Sandra), and we began to explore the tables at the 2020 TedX Marin New Year Community Gathering.  We look for cool logos, delicious foods, and interesting products or services.

Wisdom Supply Co. – Zero Waste School Supplies

The emotional response that I had to this company struck me, and the phrase that kept going through my head is “we need to give kids these solutions.  They want these solutions.  They need them.”  I have three kids in school, and they are all learning about the utter wasteland humans have made of the planet.  They are motivated to do something!  Plastics became available for every-day use just since WWII, and in one generation’s time they have spread to the entire planet’s ecosystem, now overtaking the mass of fish in the oceans.  The Baby Boomer and Gen X generation have experienced complete domination of plastics in every facet of life.  We need to give the next generation an alternative.  They want an alternative!  Wisdom Supply Co. has developed a line of products that are either compostable, recyclable, or refillable.  I absolutely love their logo, and it emulates simplicity. To learn more about these products and find out how you can get them into your schools, visit them at www.wisdomsupplyco.com/.

Herbologie Teas and Nutraceuticals

There is something about the aroma of fresh ginger and turmeric that draws you in.  It’s as though you instinctively know that your body will be nourished by these ancient roots.  Herbologie Teas and Nutraceuticals are created by Monika Kathuria Tournis, who hosted the table.  She knows her stuff, and has been working with plants for 20+ years.  We love her logo!  To learn more about Herbologie you can visit their website at:  www.herbologieteas.com/

BACKYARD BUNGALOWS

Housing in the North Bay, and the Bay Area in general is needed badly.  With the loss of homes due to the fires adding to the shortage of housing, and an aging population that wants to stay put, building contractors are providing unique and creative solutions.  Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) are a way to increase the value of your home, and can provide rental income.  One company, Backyard Bungalows, is building these tiny homes and small structures to be modern and beautiful!  The Backyard Bungalows table was hosted by Melanie Cheng, who graciously explained what they do.  The company was founded by Barry Price, who moved from building large homes, to specializing in backyard bungalows in Marin County and the North Bay.  You can learn more and see their really beautiful portfolio of bungalows by visiting them at www.backyard-bungalows.net/  or call them directly at 415-971-3710.

My Favorite Packaging – Cult Cracker

Other Logos Of Note

Golden Touchpoints - 16 Most Important Touchpoints For Sales

The Golden Touchpoints – 5 Most Important Touchpoints In The Customer Journey

21

TOUCHPOINTS
FOR A SALE!

Golden Touchpoints - 16 Most Important Touchpoints For Sales

How Can It Be Possible To Create Them All?

Before diving into this subject let me take some weight off of your shoulders with one word:  automation.  If you are responsible for bringing in business, your day-to-day marketing tasks should be limited to just the few touchpoints that ONLY YOU can do.  Everything else should be automated or delegated.  O.k., let’s go!

I heard recently that it now can take 21 touchpoints in the customer journey before a purchase.  This is due to the incredible speed of information turnover that we are exposed to every day through social media.  When I heard this number it seemed astonishing and impossible to achieve so  I sat down to create a list.  The list grew to 43 common touchpoints!  And there are certainly more.

Of these 43 however, not all are created equal.   The touchpoints every business must have in place and kept current whether you want to or not are in the chart below.   Most of these touchpoints can be automated, preset, or delegated.  The touchpoints highlighted by the blue blob are the Golden Touchpoints – those that you should handle yourself, or delegate only to someone very close to the voice of your business.  The Golden Touchpoints may vary slightly by organization, and we help businesses identify theirs so that they stop wasting time and money focusing on touchpoints that should just be handed to someone else.

Future Bright - Wendy Louise Nog
Wendy Louise Nog - Future Bright Founder, Digital Strategist

How They Work

Here is a quick summary of how these Golden Touchpoints work together.

  1. Your physical presence and marketing materials are distributed
  2. Content & stories are shared throughout your entire digital presence.
  3. Online Profiles lead the audience back to your website or product page.
  4. Your audience connects with you via call, email, chat, Contact Form, or Opt-In.
  5. Nurture those potential customers through calls, emails, providing value.
  6. They say yes!  You have a new customer!
  7. Follow a delivery/service process designed to care for your new customer.
  8. Give your customer an opportunity to review you.
  9. Respond to their review and feedback.
  10. Stay in contact with them and continue to provide value.
  11. Repeat!
The Golden Touchpoints
You may have many of these in place already.  You need to ensure not only that each item is carefully crafted, but also that they are all working together and speaking in the same voice.  This can be done through automation and the implementation of tools that will keep these touchpoints running while you practice your craft.  Implementing automation and also delegating tasks will give you time to tend to the most important touchpoints that only you can address such as  in-person calls and attending meetings, and events.

When you add to the number of touchpoints in your sales efforts, and stay consistent with your voice and brand at every point, you will experience a loyal customer base and increased engagement.

We want to be a part of your success.  We are offering a “Golden Touchpoints” Ultimate Package in which we ensure these important elements are in place and working on a monthly basis.  You can sign up for a two-hour consultation, or a full day intensive workshop.  Click here to learn more!

Sales Touchpoint Automation Tools & Partners

  • CRM such as Simplero, Salesforce, GitHub
  • Email Marketing Tools such as MailChimp
  • Online Payments Processing/Invoicing
  • Website Maintenance Partner
  • Reviews Management Partner
  • Social Content Management Partner
  • Content Creator Partner (Copywriter)

Full List Of Common Touchpoints

GoldenTouchpoint
1AdvertisingePublication Ad
2AdvertisingXFacebook Ad
3AdvertisingXGoogle Ad
4AdvertisingOnline Membership Ad
5CallXPhone Call
6CollateralBrochure
7CollateralBulletin Board / Roadside
8CollateralBusiness Card
9CollateralCar/Bus Sign
10CollateralPrinted Bag
11CollateralPrinted Pen
12EmailXAuto Responder
13EmailXeNewsletter
14EmailXPersonalized Email
15EmailVideo Voicemail
16EventBooth at an event
17EventEvent Attended
18EventSpeak at an event
19EventSponsoring Event/Team, etc.
20MailMailer
21MeetingGroup Meeting/MeetUp
22MeetingOne-To-One Meeting
23PeopleFace To Face Meeting
24People
Friend/Family Recommendation
25PeopleXReferral/Testimonial From Client
26PublicationLocal Paper/Magazine Ad
27Search Results“Best Of” Article Appearance
28SearchXSearch Engine Results
29SocialXFacebook Post
30SocialInfluencer Mention
31SocialInstagram Image
32SocialXLinkedIn Share/Post
33SocialXOnline Review
34StoreDrive By Storefront
35Store
Visit Store/See product on shelf
36VideoXVideo Somewhere
37WebsiteWebsite Home Page
38WebsiteWebsite Portfolio
39WebsiteXWebsite Product Page
40WebsiteWebsite Survey
41WebsiteXWebsite Opt-In Form
42WebsiteXWebsite Contact Form
43WebsiteWebsite Chat
How To Make Your WordPress Website Insanely Fast

How To Make Your WordPress Website Load Insanely Fast

Updated Winter 2019

Top 5 Reasons Why Your Website Is Slow

  1.  Images are too large
  2.  Code is not compressed
  3.  Code, Javascript or plug-in errors
  4.  Site is not cached
  5.  Server is slow

Other less obvious reasons:

  • Your domain has an https redirect
  • Another site on your shared server is being attacked
  • Too many elements on your site are trying to load at the same time
  • PHP version does not match the WordPress, Theme, or plug-in version
How To Make A Wordpress Site Insanely Fast

Website Speed Tests:

Following are the site speed tests that we use.  Test results will vary vastly depending upon how busy your server is, and many other factors.  Try at different times during the day to learn more about what your visitors experience.  We try to keep a site fully rendering in under 2 seconds.  Under one second is the magic number!

Pingdom:
tools.pingdom.com/

Google:
developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Dot Com Tools:
www.dotcom-tools.com/website-speed-test.aspx

GT Metrix:

gtmetrix.com/

How To Make Your WordPress Website Insanely Fast

  1. Reduce Your Image Sizes
  2. Asset Optimization through GZIP, compression, &  minify (theme, images, scripts, and files)
  3. Implement Browser Caching
  4. Configure Your Hosting & Server Optimally
  5. Utilize a Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  6. Use Cloudflare

The Details

Following are more details about the above items.  It can take 5-8 hours to implement all of these, including testing, so consider that in your cost estimates so that you can weigh cost/benefits.  It is especially important to move carefully if you are working on a live site.

Select A Good Theme – Or Build Your Own

We primarily use a WordPress theme called Patti.  We have chosen Patti because it is simple, clean, and has beautiful 20/40/60 spacing.  We specialize in creating visually stunning websites, so we needed a starting theme that felt free, airy, modern, and that is highly flexible.  We found all of these in Patti, which also allows you to use custom short-codes.  We speed test the demo version of every theme we consider.  The demo must load in under 2 seconds.  Every theme has its pros and cons.  Because we use lots of huge images, if our score on Google’s Page Speed Insights is in the green, we are happy!

Server Optimization – Your Host Provider Can Perform These Tasks

  • Choose a host that is known for being fast.
  • Have your host “Set my PHP Max Input Vars to 1540”
  • Ensure that Gzip is enabled on your server
  • If Needed, host your website on a dedicated Server (is more expensive, around $100/month)

Asset Optimization & Browser Caching Plugins

Font Optimization

If you are using Google or other custom fonts, your site can render a default font first, and then the custom or Google font.  Use the CSS below.  Note of caution:  the user will observe the transition, so if design is important to you, this may not be an option.  You can find other options at:  FONT OPTIMIZATION

/**draw text then swaps when font loads**/
body{ font-display: swap;}

WordPress Plugins

We utilize the following plugins to achieve asset optimization and caching.  I will not go over all of the settings because you will need to play around with the options based upon your particular site.  If you are working on a live site, continuously check the site to ensure that any features you have implemented have not broken your site.  Specifically, minifying CSS and Javascript can cause issues.  If your site is not WordPress, look for added widgets or features, or what ever your platform offers, for the below functionality.

WPMU – Smush

  • Compresses Images
  • Reduces all images to a maximum size that you set.  No accidental 6MB file sizes!

WPMU Hummingbird Pro

  • Analyzer
  • Weekly Report Email
  • Caching
  • Gzip
  • Asset Compressing(minify – may break your theme, use carefully)
  • Tools:  WPMU Dev CDN for JavaScript and CSS files

WP Disable – Optimization.io

  • Heartbeat at 60 or above (https://www.siteground.com/tutorials/wordpress/limit-heartbeat/)
  • Removes Bloat
  • Database Clean-Up
  • Offload Google Analytics (not always done)

Swift Performance Lite

  • Speed Booster
  • Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content (doesn’t always work)
  • Leverage browser caching
  • CDN Optional

WP Rocket Can take your site from 40 to 80 just by activating it.

  • A powerful, paid alternative to Swift (my other favorite), Super & W3 Total
  • Easy Activation
  • Minification
  • Caching
  • Image Load As Needed
  • Caches your site

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Many of the above plugins include CDN’s.  They also offer storing CSS and scripts off site.  We do not use those, only because it becomes challenging to keep track of everything that is going on with a site.  We simply use one CDN for the entire site.  A CDN creates copies of your site throughout the world.  Your site is then served to a user from the location that is closest to them.  Because the site is a completely cached copy, delivery can be very fast.  If you have having speed issues due to your SSL Certificate (in speed tests your domain name takes a long time to load), a CDN may resolve this issue.

There are many CDN’s to choose from.  We utilize Cloudflare.

Website Hosting Service

As hosting providers grow, their servers tend to slow.  We now steer clients away from BlueHost and GoDaddy.   If you are not in need of an enterprise-level hosting platform, there are several providers that we can recommend.

  1.  Site Ground – in our testing, an identical page loaded in 945 ms on Site Ground, and 1.6 on WPEngine.
  2. WPEngine – We started out with our agency account at BlueHost, but left due to down-time, then moved to a local partner who managed our servers at MediaTemple, but again left because of down-time issues and speed.  We are now settled in at WP Engine because of all that they offer.  We like having a managed wordpress account because the back-ups, PHP updates and WordPress updates are all taken care of. This is a big time saver, and a cost saver definitely for the client. WP Engine also caches each website, has free SSL certificates, and also a CDN.

 CONCLUSION

Sometimes finding that one thing that is slowing a site down feels like searching for a needle in a haystack.  If you go through the above list and implement them all, and you are still having issues, it may be worthwhile to hire fresh eyes to take a look.  Sometimes someone who isn’t familiar with your site can spot things that you overlook because you have looked at your site a million times.  I hope that you find this list beneficial.  Of course every website is different, and you may use only some of these options.  I wish you speed!

–Wendy Louise Nog, MSTM, Founder of Future Bright

WIN ARTISAN CHOCOLATE!

How SEO and Social Media Work Together

What’s More Important? SEO or Social Media?

Social Media brings instant, short-term traffic.  SEO is more long-term and will establish your position in search rankings for the long-term.

It takes weeks, even months, for SEO adjustments to your website to be reflected in search results.  Social Media on the other hand can be used to immediately drive traffic to your website.  Once a visitor arrives at your site, if you have an engaging interface that encourages visitors to explore additional pages, they will click through your website.  This engagement demonstrates to Google that your content is relevant to a particular type of visitor and search.  Google takes note and boosts your ranking for those types of searches and visitors.  For this reason, it is important to consider social media and SEO as working together.

Fact:  Social Media can bring instant traffic, but if you stop posting, traffic stops.  SEO takes longer to increase traffic but also sustains traffic longer.

What Is A Better Investment:
Social Media or SEO?

New Business:  If you are a new business with limited funds and you need to generate revenue in order to move forward, use Social Media to drive traffic to your site for sales.  Using that revenue, then invest in an SEO strategy that works with your Social Media profiles for long-term growth.

Established Business:  If you are a more established business, invest in a full assessment of your web presence.  Use SEO best practices on your existing website and social media platforms.  Utilize social media campaigns to drive traffic back to your site, and then monitor engagement, making changes to your site content as needed over time.

Our Method

Our method typically entails first ensuring that a website is using all of the best practices for SEO such as using key words, key phrases, meta tags and image alt tags, fast site speed & SSL.  Put simply, we get your house ready for visitors.  Then we use Social Media to drive traffic to your site, which, as mentioned above, is faster than getting SEO results.  We use heat maps & analytics to see how visitors interact with your site, and then modify the site content, organization and layout for achieving your engagement goals.  By the time this has been executed, which takes a couple of months, Google will have started to reflect modifications to your site, and your pages may begin to appear in searches that you have targeted.

Over time, we then use Google Search Console to even more closely fine tune your site for search results based on what searches your site is appearing in, and how you rank in those searches.  As an example, by looking at Search Console, we could see that Future Bright was appearing in searches for SEO professionals in our home town of Mill Valley.  We created a landing page specifically for that search, optimized it, and now that page is beginning to appear for that same search, and visitors who click on the site will see a page created especially for them.  You can view the page here.

After about six months have passed, a clear picture emerges of which social media platforms are most suitable for your business, what search terms are being used to find your business, and what type of content is most engaging.  Using that information, you can continue to create content with confidence, and with the tools that are in place, monitor the success of that content, and adjust as your audience interest shifts.

Conclusion:

First ensure that your site is using best practices for SEO and also has Google Analytics and a Facebook pixel installed.  Then use Social Media to drive traffic to your site.  Monitor engagement on your site with a heat map, and adjust for user experience.  Utilize Google Search Console to learn how you are doing with searches for your keywords, and adjust or add new content based on those results.

How SEO and Social Media Work Together

How To Make Social Media & SEO Work Together

  1. Install Analytics Tracking Onto Your Website
  2. Create social media profiles on relevant platforms
  3. Identify key words to use in your content
  4. Write content on your website
  5. Share your content on your social media platforms to drive traffic back to your website
  6. Use good layout and internal links (UX) to encourage visitors to look at multiple pages & convert
  7. Read your analytics reporting to learn what is/not working
  8. Adjust, refine, repeat
Future Bright Heat Map Image

Heat Maps & Visitor Trails – Make Your Website A Blazing Force!

Night Vision For Websites – A Case Study!

Question:  Who are all of these visitors, what do they do when they get here, and why are they not converting into paying customers?

A Northern California client came to us for help with increasing leads for their environmental clean-up business.  They have a pretty high volume of traffic for a small local business.  They receive 30,000+ visitors per month.  By looking at Google Analytics, we were able to see that most of the visitors are going to five blog articles discussing Carbon Monoxide and a few other home environmental topics.  InfusionSoft is operating in the background, collecting leads, but leads were only trickling in, perhaps just a few per week.  We could also see that only 1/6 of users who started the Request A Quote form were completing it.  Two thirds of their site traffic comes from the East coast (3000 miles away), and Southern California, so does not represent potential clients.  The site has an average on page time of 6 minutes with a bounce rate of 90%.  How odd!

What would you do?  This is the fun part of our work:  playing detective.

Our first objective was to follow the rule that it is cheaper to get business from existing clients than to go out and find new ones.  Rather than trying to bring in new traffic, we wanted to try to convert more of their existing traffic, and monetize the traffic from users who are geographically not potential clients.  The client would be overbooked if they had 40 projects in a month.  It certainly should be possible to convert 40 users out of 30,000 into customers!

The Never Ending Form

The first thing we did was ask the client about the “Request A Quote” form.  Just a tiny percentage of those who started the form actually completed it.  Why were people dropping off?  How long is the form, we asked?  “Six pages long” was the reply.  When they created the quote form, the client was concerned that they would be flooded with requests, so they made the Request A Quote form intentionally long as a way to scare off people who didn’t really need help, and required a response for every single question so that only someone who really wanted a call would go through the trouble of filling it out.  They certainly were successful in deterring responses!  Isn’t that thought process just adorable?  We have seen this many times.  “Make the user really try hard to reach us because then we know that for sure they want our help so that we don’t waste our time with people who aren’t going to turn into customers”.

We recommended using a short form first, and if calls did in fact start flooding in, THEN adjust.  We replaced the six page form with a five question form.  Within a week the number of form completions doubled.   We are testing this short form and then will test an even shorter form.

By utilizing Google Analytics and heat map technology we were able to determine that there was too much of a barrier to collect qualified leads, and shortened the form, plus removed the annoying pop-up.  The high volume of traffic is mostly comprised of actual human users who find the content extremely relevant and compelling.  They are not potential clients for the services offered due to their geographic location, but it should be possible to provide additional value to them by making recommendation for trusted products this generate a bit of additional income through affiliate and referral agreements.

Chez BeeSen, Mediterranean Cuisine

Future Bright Heat Map Image

This San Francisco Lunch Spot does catering, and also walk-in orders.  We use a heat map to find out what users are interested in, and what they click on.  We can see how far down they scroll on the home page, and what the engagement is on desktop vs. mobile.

Bounce Rate And On-Page Time

The next piece of the puzzle is this high number of visits to six of their blog articles.  The articles receive several hundred visitors per day.  An SEO analyst had told them that the traffic was all bots.  We disagreed, based on what we saw in the data and “sensed”.  But how do we know for sure?  How can we solve this mysterious data showing long on-page times yet a high bounce rate?  It appeared from our initial examination that these are real users who land at these blog entries, read the ENTIRE thing, and then leave.  We didn’t think they were bots.  But to try to engage with these anonymous users, and to know for certain that they are real, we had to learn more than we could get from Google Analytics.

This is where the heat maps and user trails come in.  What we learned was incredibly valuable.   When we studied reports made on the  carbon monoxide blog article, a stunning 75% of users scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page reading carefully and slowly.  By recording over 100 user’s movements, we were able to see that the opt-in pop-up was a huge annoyance, yet it didn’t send them running, they simply closed it and continued reading all the way to the end.  They often scrolled up to read a section again.  Folks!  We have real users here!  Plus, they find the information in the article so compelling that they read the entire thing!

Summary

By utilizing Google Analytics and heat maps, we were able to determine that there was too much of a barrier for users to request a quote.  We removed the pop-up and reduced the Request A Quote form to just a few questions.  The high volume of traffic was found to be actual humans, who find the information in the article very compelling and relevant.  They are not potential customers due mainly to their geographic location, but it should be possible to engage them in other was such as through affiliate agreements or referrals to businesses that are located in their area.

Alignable Spam – How To Delete Alignable

Is Alignable pilfering your email list?

Alignable will trick or mislead you into giving them access to your contacts and then will spam them daily and relentlessly in your name for months.  Already a victim?  Here is how to escape.    If you haven’t accepted an invitation but are getting spammed, select “unsubscribe” immediately and don’t look back.

My Story!  Does This Sound Familiar?

One morning on June 21, 2017 I received an email from one of my favorite clients.  Her note said that she wanted to refer clients to me so had added me to something called Alignable.  The email sounded so friendly that I thought that she had written it, and that she actually had a few people that she wanted to refer to us at Future Bright (We build beautiful and mighty websites.)  I clicked the “accept” button.  I had unknowingly entered the Alignable funnel and beginning immediately I was bombarded daily and relentlessly by emails claiming “you have pending referral opportunities”.  In each email was a big fat green button that said “invite”.  I realized that what they wanted was my email list.  I received no less than eighty emails in sixty days’ time.

Your E-Mail List Is Your Holy Grail!

Anyone who owns a business knows that your email list is your holy grail.  Your crown jewel.  It is to be protected, carefully used, and never ever shared.  That is why Alignable wants your list so badly!  I became nervous.  I knew that their access to my email list was just one careless click away. I wanted to end the barrage of emails, but I wasn’t sure if this was perhaps an emerging tool and didn’t want to miss out.  I read articles about the site and didn’t find any negative comments (To this day I can’t figure out how they are managing to bury complaints).  They seemed to be writing some interesting research reports…

Then, on August 21, I received an email that said,

 

I thought that Alignable was recommending that I connect with one new person.  It says “a” business connection.  Doesn’t that mean just one? The button says, “Add My Connection”.  That is just one connection right? I think back to that day and run through it in slow motion over and over, as I moved my mouse over the green button and clicked “yes, add my connection!”  Why did I press that button!!!???  They had tried and tried and tried and failed to get me to click the “invite” button, so they must have their funnel set to “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, then lie”.  They didn’t mean “a” they really meant “all”.

Two days later on August 23, when I opened my email, I experienced that horror one must feel when you realize that you actually HADN’T turned the microphone off.  I received an invitation to Alignable from myself to four different email address that I use in my business.  I realized that my contact list had been taken.

I had been tricked!  I felt embarrassed, horrified, knowing that over that morning, thousands of my contacts would be receiving a super friendly fake invitation from me.   Clicking that green button hadn’t added just one contact, it gave them access to all 4,000 of my contacts and sent each of them the same friendly seeming note that I had received.  Four thousand of my contacts were about to be thrown into the same confusion and relentless emailing that I had found myself in.

My embarrassment transformed into anger.  I was furious!  I tried to call the help number on the website but got an answering machine…an answering machine!

What could I do?  I debated sending my own spam to warn everyone.  Would that do more harm than good?  How do I know if EVERYONE has been spammed?  I waited.  Maybe other folks would be smarter and wouldn’t be fooled like me.  Maybe Alignable didn’t take my whole list.  Over the weeks, I began to receive notices that someone had accepted my invitation.  Months later, I was still receiving them.  I knew then that for months people had been pestered by an auto-send email like I had been.  Six months later, a former colleague of mine approached me and asked, “do you find Alignable useful?  I keep getting invitations from you”.  I realized that he had been getting invitations from “me” for months.  I knew then that I need to write this post and send it out to my entire list.  Alignable is compiling a huge list of email addresses that they have acquired through misleading practices.  Alignable has probably now accumulated millions upon millions of email addresses.

How To Stop Receiving Invitations

If you receive an invitation from one of your colleagues, chances are they actually did not send the invitation themselves.  If you believe that the invitation is legit, simply call them to ask them if they do indeed benefit from Alignable and want to connect with you there.  If you do decide to join, be very mindful of Alignable’s unrelenting efforts to get you to allow them to grab your entire contact list.  If you do not want to take the risk with Alignable,  simply avoid all of this and click the “Unsubscribe” link at the bottom of the invitation.

 

How To Delete Your Alignable Account

If you have already created an Alignable account and want to go back in time to before the nightmare began, you can delete your account, but unfortunately you cannot delete the invitations that may have been sent out on your behalf.

Deletion Instructions:

Step 1:  Go to https://www.alignable.com/ and log in to your account.

Step 2:  At the top right of the page you will see several icons.  Click on your name and select “Account Settings”.

Step 3:  Click on the red button that says “Deactivate Account”.

Step 4:  You will be sent to a screen that asks if you are sure that you want to delete your account.  Click on the green button that says “Send me deactivation instructions”.

Step 5:  You will receive a deactivation email.  Follow the instructions in that email.

Your account has now been deactivated.

How To Get Alignable To Stop Spamming Your Contacts In Your Name

There isn’t a way to do this.  I AM SORRY!!!  You cannot stop them.  This is the worst part.  And it is why their business model is flawed and so horrible.   If you have experienced Alignable spamming your contacts, I would send an e-mail out to all of your clients and contacts to try to save them if you can. You can also send them a link to this article if you wish.  It is hard to admit that you made this mistake, but it is a very easy one to make, and if you don’t tell them, they will experience months of anguish.  Don’t feel bad for being duped.  I am the world’s best skeptic, especially since I am in the industry, yet even so, out of politeness to my very loved client, I was sucked in.

Good Luck!  This article gets 1000 views in Google each month, so you can be sure, you are not alone!

Wendy Louise Nog, Founder

wendy@futurebrightdigital.com

Future Bright
Future Bright Portfolio - Crossroads Cafe

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