Customer acquisition is one of the most important aspects of building your brand. Your customers are your ticket to success, so you need to find creative ways to bring more customers in, but not just any customers — customers who will become brand evangelists.
You also want to survey your audience and find out what they want as you try to improve your content, service or products. Measuring the success of your efforts along the way can be an important part of your strategy.
However, acquiring customers can be costly if you don’t choose the right tools.
For bloggers, site owners and everyone in between, it’s important to have plenty of tools in your arsenal. Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of our business that allows us to scale in size, while also automating the process.
There are plenty of custom-created software that you can invest in, but there are also many helpful tools on the web that may serve your purposes as well. Many of which I will be covering in the list below.
Which Tools are Best for Capturing Website Leads?
Lead generation tools can be a bit confusing sometimes regarding which ones to use and how to implement the technology to maximize your impact on your target audience. Your leads generation tools should be easy to access and use, not too expensive, and they should allow you to focus on the market you want to reach.
We have scoured the web to find some of the best capture tools that will help you grow a mailing list and improve your email marketing campaigns.
Hello Bar is one of the most effective, yet unobtrusive ways to grow a mailing list and grab the attention of your audience. You’ve likely already seen this tool already being used on various websites and blogs, and the way the tool works is quite simple.
Another great feature of Hello Bar, is that it’s free for all site owners. Premium features, such as RSS feed integrations (for dynamic promotion of the latest blog posts), SSL compatibility and removal of Hello Bar’s branding are also available for anyone looking to pay a few dollars per month to upgrade.
MailOptin is a powerful WordPress plugin that allows site owners and bloggers to easily convert new and existing site visitors into email list subscribers and high-value leads. Through the use of their WordPress plugin and platform, users will have the ability to not only create custom forms and automate triggered emails for their lists, they also have the necessary tools and tracking in place to build a powerful relationship that nurtures and engages with them in the process — all within WordPress.
When it comes to the actual creation of lead generation forms for your site, MailOptin has a wide range of options to choose from. Some of the most popular and effective solutions are their lightbox popup, notification bar, slide in windows and also before/after post subscription forms. In summary, MailOptin offers all of the subscription form options and customizations necessary for turning your site content and traffic into a lead generation machine. Download the MailOptin WordPress plugin for free, and also upgrade your account to unlock all features.
GetResponse is another good tool for creating and growing your leads list. It allows you to create personalized emails, welcomes, and birthday messages through a convenient autoresponder and set up a series of emails for your contact lists.
You can set it up and forget about, it and it will keep working for you while you sleep. Customers will get notifications if they sign up for your newsletters and you can manage all of your contacts in one place.
Don’t forget to check out my GetResponse Popup Windows post on how 10 different sites are using the service to increase conversions on their own sites.
One of the greatest things about using WordPress to power a site, is that it’s easy to create a contact form of your own. However, there are plenty of tools out there to bring contact forms and engagement to a whole new level.
Gravity Forms is a tool that does exactly that. Not only can you completely customize the look, feel and options for your forms, you can also easily integrate with other platforms like Aweber, MailChimp, Paypal and more. In short, this is the perfect tool if you want to create customized forms on your site for building your mailing, or just for customization over simple contact forms.
WP Subscribe Pro
WP Subscribe Pro is a good tool to use to generate more leads for your mailing lists. With this tool, you can boost your traffic to subscribers and collect leads to promote your brand.
WP Subscribe Pro supports many other tools as well including Feedburner, MailChimp, and Aweber. It is a plug-in that you will be able to use within your blog and website to capture emails of interested visitors. It allows you to integrate your email campaign within your website and blog.
Leadin by Hubspot
Leadin by Hubspot allows you to use onboard analytics to figure out what is working best on your site and what needs to be changed. It helps, you build contacts, and it, allows you to plan your strategies with your email campaigns and organize your contacts. You can select the features you want to use and check the progress of your campaigns as you go.
It’s also free, so you don’t have to pay monthly premiums to keep it.
Lead Generation Card
There is a cool tool called the Twitter Lead Generation Card which allows you to let users express interest in what your brand offers.
You can let your users securely share their email addresses with businesses without leaving Twitter or having to fill out forms of any kind. This is a quick and easy way to build your leads while analyzing how it is working.
This tool called “Scroll-Triggered Popup” is designed to help you get the attention of visitors who have engaged with your site. You can specify the events you wish to track such as the percentage of the scroll and verify that visitors are engaged with the content you are presenting on your page.
The purpose of this tool is to:
- Get more subscribers to your newsletter
- Make it easy to share your posts
- Fill out a contact form
- Display best offers
- Share related content
It’s very customizable and you can display any content or call-to-action within the plugin. Pop-ups can be obtrusive but this tool seems to be fairly unobtrusive and just allows visitors to add themselves to the list of email subscribers if they choose to do so. They can also exit out of the application if they don’t want to.
Best Tools for Growing Your Mailing List
These are just seven examples of leads capture tools. There are more available on the web for you to discover and try out, and plenty of examples and case studies to guide you along the way. Think about how you want to utilize your content and what types of groups you want to reach. All of these tools can help you in some way but some of them are more robust than others.
Hello Bar is a snazzy way to increase engagement without taking up a lot of website space. GetResponse is great because of the autoresponders and instant notifications capabilities. Gravity Forms is also another great tool for all site owners to consider since we all need contact forms.
Only you know how much you can afford to invest in your email lead generation and outreach, but these tools are a good sampling of price ranges that allow you to build your brand while building your mailing list over time.
Whatever tools you choose, it’s best to try out the features first and see what works and what doesn’t. With time you’ll learn which features are the most important to your business and which ones you can do without.
The goal is to utilize either free or premium tools that will help you reach your business goals and cut your customer acquisition costs down.
Free Cloud Managed Hosting and Resources from SkySilk
The cloud is benefiting online brands in amazing ways. Organizations are investing in cloud platforms to improve the cost-effectiveness of data storage, scale online resources in unprecedented ways and minimize disruptions while pursuing customers internationally.
However, with so many users, brands and businesses relying on the cloud, costs can quickly add up if you are relying too much on it. Even with hosting costs being quite competitive and low cost, it’s still an extra added cost that some might not be able to absorb. The good news is that there are more options out there than ever before — not just for cloud hosting, but also for saving money in the process.
One such solution is Skysilk, a top cloud-based solution for evolving brands. To learn more about the service and what they have to offer, here are some of the ways SkySilk is changing the hosting industry and how users and brands store data in the cloud.
Highly affordable and Versatile VPS
SkySilk has a new VPS that is currently in beta. While it is still awaiting its hard launch, users can sign up for the beta version of the VPS for free. All plans are freely available under the temporary beta program, except for the premium subscription.
Here are some of the primary benefits that the free version of the SkySilk VPS (which will still be available after the beta period ends) offers:
- You have access to free lamp stack.
- You can store up to 25 GB of SSD memory.
- You have access to 512 MB of RAM.
- You can have bandwidth speeds of 12 MB per second.
- You can take advantage of WordPress and over 40 other Linux-based apps.
- You will have access to triple replicated backups.
- You can earn rewards with the loyalty program.
SkySilk offers some of the most generous features of any affordable VPS on the market. It is even more impressive that they are free during the current beta period.
The biggest limitation of the free plan is that it only allows you to create one VPS per user. This is an issue for bloggers that want to manage multiple domains and plan to scale their traffic with a VPS. Though the option is always there to upgrade and find the necessary resources and growth plan for your individual or business needs.
If you want to purchase a standard plan, you will be able to get an unlimited number of VPSs for every user. This is one of the most compelling benefits of their plan. You will also have a bandwidth limit of 200 MB/s, instead of the 12 MB/s that is available under the free plan.
You can purchase the standard plan for only $5 a month. It is a great deal if the extra bandwidth and unlimited VPS configurations can help. However, you may want to stick to the free version if you are running a single blog at the beginning with limited traffic.
You also will be able to take manual backups and snapshots of your VPS data at any time. The free version doesn’t currently allow any backup or snapshots at all.
Highly Intuitive Interface
According to reviews by users that previously had little or no experience with VPS systems, SkySilk was very intuitive and easy to set up. Users that have never created a VPS environment before were able to complete the process in under 15 minutes.
If you want to choose one of their premium plans, you can easily use the custom configuration to choose the scope of the services that you were looking for. You will receive a quote in real time and can adjust your configuration to your budget.
Keep in mind that the service is currently free, except for the highest tier premium plan. However, this doesn’t mean that the quoted price is irrelevant. The platform will eventually go out of beta mode and you will need to pay a monthly fee for the configuration unless you choose the free plan option. It is a good idea to choose a configuration that will be compatible with your future budget, so you don’t get used to using features that will no longer be available to you.
Since the free VPS will still be available after the beta period has ended, you may want to test this version of the plan if you don’t intend to pay a fee for your future VPS services. However, it may be worth testing a slightly higher tier plan that you will be willing to pay for.
Every VPS customer needs a strong support team because you never know what issues you encounter will be. So, how does the SkySilk customer support team stack up against their competitors?
There aren’t any comprehensive reviews that compare the SkySilk support team to their competitors. However, based on anecdotes from other users, their support team appears to be very dependable and timely. They also have a detailed support section on their site that covers most of the frequently asked questions that users have, along with a community support forums for anyone that can’t find answers on the site. The option is also there to submit a support ticket through their site as well.
Users that created an account with SkySilk said that they received replies from the support team within minutes of sending a request.
Emphasis on security
With the growing number of data breaches that occur every year, digital security is a priority for every online business. Don’t worry – Skysilk takes security extremely seriously.
Here are some of the measures they have taken to ensure your security is protected.
– Minimizing staff access to your data
Many security breaches occur because employees are negligent or willingly choose to engage in fraud. Limiting employee access to data is important. Skysilk recognizes this, so they make sure their staff doesn’t have access to backend hypervisors. This means the technical support team can’t control or manipulate virtual server data, containers or images on any of the cloud-based storage systems under their control. Only the Skysilk engineering team can access any of the backend servers and will do so only when necessary.
– Carefully encrypting credit card data
Credit card fraud is another serious concern. You want to make sure that any VPS service that you use takes it seriously.
Skysilk uses Authorize.net for all payment processing. These transactions are conducted through encrypted HTTPs connections, thereby significantly limiting the risk of fraud.
– 24/7 physical onsite security
The security team at Skysilk monitors the premises 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They constantly monitor for any known risks and take all necessary precautions.
Skysilk is an excellent VPS for bloggers on a tight budget
If you are looking for an affordable VPS, Skysilk is a great option to consider. They offer reasonable bandwidth, exceptional security and dependable support that rivals any other low-cost VPS provider. It is a good idea to try it out during the beta period, since you won’t be charged a fee for the standard plan that will soon cost $5 a month.
Grow, Nurture and Engage Your Email List & Customers with MailOptin
It happens to all new bloggers and site owners at some stage in their career. They work very hard to build a steady stream of traffic to their website. Then they get incredibly frustrated that 70% of their visitors will leave and never return. It is even harder knowing that many of their visitors will convert.
With this in mind, it’s important to realize that you only have one shot to make a great first impression, while also grabbing the email address of your site visitors in the process. This is simply one of the most effective ways to increase repeat traffic to your site, while also building a powerful mailing list in the process.
There are several tools and solutions out there for accomplishing this, but some are clearly better than others. Gone are the days when you simply have a pop-up or subscription form on your site, now it’s all about customization, split-testing and being able to improve your results over time. One such solution that is focusing their efforts on exactly this, is MailOptin, which is a powerful WordPress plugin that allows site owners and bloggers to build a subscriber list and start boosting your email conversions.
With so many different tools and methods for growing a mailing list on the internet today, let’s take a look at what makes MailOptin stand out from the crowd.
Use MailOptin to Grow Your List
MailOptin can be managed directly through your WordPress dashboard. You can create your own custom optin page to build your subscriber list.
One great thing about MailOptin is that it has plenty of premade sign-up forms. You can easily tweak them to your liking. Some features that you can modify include:
- Popup lightboxes
- Sidebar widgets
- Call-to-action buttons
You can alter the colors and sizes to maximize conversions. It is a good idea to run a split-test to see which styles have the best conversion rates.
In addition to using a carefully optimized email opt-in form, you must also make sure your landing page copy matches what your visitors are looking for. If you are offering a free e-book to entice visitors to join your email list, your landing page needs to clearly outline the benefits, as well as any long-term benefits of signing up to your list.
When you are testing different landing page styles and forms, it is a good idea to use this split testing tool. It will tell you when a specific MailOptin landing page outperforms another to varying degrees of statistical significance. It is a good idea to start with two entirely different landing pages before testing less important elements, such as different colors for your call to action buttons.
Integrate MailOptin with your favorite email marketing automation tool
MailOptin isn’t a standalone email marketing automation platform. You are going to need to use it in conjunction with another email automation service.
This tool will sync with your marketing automation platform whenever a predefined event is triggered. You can also use it to automatically send an email message. One of the most common uses of MailOptin Is to email your subscriber list each time a new post is published.
Create beautifully designed custom emails
You can build a list of thousands of subscribers. It won’t do any good if your emails suck. You need a well-designed layout that will appeal to your readers.
MailOptin has a number of email templates to choose from. You can choose different styles for newsletter emails, sales emails or any other conversion goal.
Excellent analytics features
Other marketing automation tools lack decent analytics features. Fortunately, MailOptin has you covered.
The dashboard keeps detailed data on your visitors and conversions. You can easily figure out which forms and landing pages convert the best. You won’t have any trouble optimizing your campaign with MailOptin. All of this data can be accessed directly from your WordPress browser, unlike most other email marketing optimization tools.
Setting up MailOptin
Setting up MailOptin is a quick and easy process. You simply need to take the following steps:
- Download MailOptin and install it on your WordPress plug-in page. From there, you can easily activate it to start using it.
- You will see a new menu item for MailOptin in the sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. If you hover over it, you will see links to the settings and features for the plug-in.
- Click the Connections tab and enter your API to sync with your email marketing automation service.
- Click “New Optin” on the Optin Campaigns tab. You will see a number of different types of forms that you can use for your subscriber page. You just need to click the desired form to get started.
- Browse the form features and optimize form however you please.
- Activate the form to start using it on your landing pages.
It is as simple as that.
Choosing the right subscription plan for MailOptin
There are three different subscriber plans that you can choose from:
- The lite plan, which is currently free.
- The standard plan, which is available for $69 a year.
- The pro plan, which is available for $199 a year.
Which plan is ideal for you? If you run a small blog with a single, unsegmented email list, then you may find that the free plan is the best. You can run up to three campaigns at a time and register up to 100 conversions every month. You can take advantage of most of the form features, such as lightbox pop-ups and sidebar forms. You will also have access to a free support service and email branding options.
As your blog grows, you may need to upgrade to the standard plan. It will allow you to manage an unlimited number of campaigns and record an unlimited number of conversions. You will also have access to a few extra form features, such as notification bars and slide-in boxes. You also have an advanced lead segmentation option. This is a great feature if you are generating subscribers from a variety of different landing pages with different angles.
The pro plan is great for power bloggers that run a lot of different websites. It has a few additional features that aren’t available on the free or standard plans. You can also take advantage of third-party app and WooCommerce integrations.
Get Started With MailOptin Today!
When it comes to turning site visitors into subscribers, it’s all about aggressive call to actions. Since roughly 70% of the visitors to your site are going to leave after their first visit, you might as well give them something to act upon.
MailOptin is one of the best email marketing optimization tools for accomplishing this. You can download the plugin, install it on your WordPress site and create your first form in less than ten minutes. Once you get started, you can start testing and creating some great forms that will grow your optins faster than you ever expected.
Be sure to try it out and see the many different lead generation and call to actions available through the software.
Discover How Incapsula Secures Websites and Boosts Performance
When you run your business on the Internet, any sort of business at all, it is absolutely paramount that you keep security front of mind. If you have a content-based website like a blog, you don’t want hackers to get into your backend and install all sorts of malicious code or compromise the security of your website visitors. If you have an online store or a site with user-generated content, you don’t want hackers stealing the personal data of your customers and members either. You also want to make sure that your site runs as quickly and as smoothly as possible. But how?
A Four-Pronged Approach
Offering a comprehensive suite of products and solutions, Incapsula by Imperva strives to “secure and accelerate your website” to deliver the best possible user experience while frustrating attackers and simplifying your operations.
There are four main product categories as part of the overall Incapsula solution. Depending on the nature of your website and your specific needs as an online business owner, you may be interested in one or more of these products. These include DDoS protection, website security, a content delivery network, and a load balancer. Let’s take a little bit of a closer look at each of these individually.
You may have heard of what is known as a distributed denial of service attack or a DDoS attack for short. There is a form of attack where multiple computers (and other devices connected to the Internet) bombard a server with HTTP requests and pings. This effectively overloads the server such that any content on it, like your website, is rendered inaccessible by everyone else. Incapsula offers DDoS protection for that.
In fact, Incapsula recognizes the immediacy of such a potential problem with several mentions on the website offering help if you are currently under a DDoS attack. They work so quickly that they guarantee to mitigate any DDoS attack in under ten seconds, regardless of its size. The all-inclusive DDoS protection protects your website, name server, and infrastructure.
If you want to learn more, the 2017 Forrester Wave DDoS Mitigation Solutions report is now available for download. Through this report, you are offered critical insights into DDoS mitigation, identify the solution for your company, look into different attack types, and so much more.
Regardless of the kind of online property that you own or run, you should be especially careful about website security. This is not only to protect any confidential or personal data that may be stored but also to make sure that you are aren’t attacked or compromised by any number of suspected bots. You also want to make sure that your resources are not being accessed without your permission. Incapsula has a full range of website security features.
The Incapsula website goes into some technical detail about the types of attacks the solution can protect against, like SQL injection and cross-site request forgery, but most of us probably won’t completely understand what most of that means. What we can see is that the solution is very robust and takes care of multiple possible threats.
In particular, the “exclusive client classification technology” is able to identify and block malicious bots that may be trying to access your website, all while ensuring that legitimate bots (like search engine spiders) are able to get through without a hitch. Custom policies can be enacted to fit your specific situation.
Another feature that is well worth mentioning is backdoor shell protection. If your website was attacked at some point in the past before you added Incapsula to the mix, it’s quite possible that even if you think you cleaned out the problem, there’s still a “backdoor” vulnerability left behind. Incapsula can close that back door by quarantining the threat and helping you work toward removing it entirely.
Do you use two-factor authentication (2FA) with such sites and services as Google, Facebook, and Dropbox? You don’t need to be a mega-corporation to afford such a function for your own users. You can easily deploy 2FA in front of any page, subdomain or group of URLs. All it takes is one quick click.
Content Delivery Network
One of the greatest strengths of working on the internet is that you can overcome nearly any physical boundary. You might live in Oklahoma, but you could be doing business with someone from Oman. You could live in California, but your biggest readership might be based in Croatia. The thing is that your website content will naturally be delivered the fastest if the server is closest to the recipient. This is true even if you’re talking about someone in San Antonio trying to get to a website being served from Toronto.
This is where the accurately named content delivery network (CDN) comes into the picture. The Incapsula CDN is a global network with intelligent caching and cache control options. What this means is that your website performance is drastically improved with lower bandwidth costs and a better user experience. Incapsula says that websites that use their CDN are about 50% faster and use 70% less bandwidth.
Smart caching is a big part of this because it means that the same content doesn’t need to be retrieved over and over again. The proprietary machine learning technology can learn what dynamic content it should cache. And with servers all around the world, your users will get the best experience possible no matter where they are.
If you are a larger organization with more complex needs, the Incapsula load balancer as a service (LBaaS) could be an important addition to your technology mix. The idea is that you get “continuous health monitoring” to ensure that traffic is automatically routed to a server that is available. If you’ve got your web content stored on multiple servers, it’s important that you don’t overrun one while underutilizing another.
The LBaaS is able to optimize this traffic distribution across servers, maximizing the resulting performance. This is especially key, for instance, where you might run mobile or web apps that are constantly pinging the server. We’ve seen many top-tier applications run into problems like this before and it’s certainly an issue you want to avoid if you want to provide the best user experience possible. There’s even a global server load balancer that looks into both geolocation and the best connection time.
How Much Does It All Cost?
Incapsula is offered in three main tiers, all of which are priced on a per site, per month basis. The $59 Pro plan is geared toward websites that value website security, getting protection against malicious bots, hacker, and other potential attacks. This also includes a number of performance upgrades like access to the content delivery network.
If you need application layer DDoS protection, you’ll need to step up to the Business plan, which costs $299 per site per month. This includes the 10-second mitigation guarantee. At this level, you also gain access to more advanced security solutions. The Enterprise plan, where you’ll need to request a rate quote for your particular circumstances, is how you can unlock the rest of the DDoS protection, like network layer protection and protection for DNS servers, as well as options for the load balancer and datacenter failover.
The setup process starts with signing up for an account and choosing a plan. After submitting your domain, you’ll receive instructions for changing your DNS records. It takes up to 48 hours before all traffic is routed through Incapsula.
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