Preparing for Cyber Monday: 15 Ways You Can Improve Sales and Reach

The last couple months of the year are crucial for many consumer-focused companies. People are in the mood to buy during the holiday season, and there is a lot of competition for their attention.

In order to build up engagement, you need to create content that helps ease consumers into your sales funnel. Deals should be offered to people in the know — through subscriber lists and social media groups — but you should avoid encouraging people to wait to buy. Small micro sales can help, as they get people to check in regularly.

To help you narrow down the many options, we asked 15 entrepreneurs from YEC for their best advice on how to promote your fast-approaching Cyber Monday sale to increase its reach and success.

1. Expand Your Top Funnel Ad Buys

There’s still time to juice the opportunities you have in order to capture more volume during the holiday sales. Widen your top funnel with ad campaigns that target reach or brand recognition goals instead of actual conversions. The more people you can pixel for retargeting later this year, the better. This should be followed up with a strong retargeting campaign as your sales go live.

Derek Shanahan, SuperRewards

2. Collect Email Addresses

Start collecting email addresses by A/B testing different email capture forms on your website. Segment your email lists to send the most relevant offers to your customers based on how they interacted with your website and which sign-up form they submitted their information through.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

3. Use Pay-Per-Click Ads, Then Retarget

Launching an early pay-per-click ad group is a great way to get people aware of your promotions in the week leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. All throughout Thanksgiving weekend, launch a retargeting campaign for people who have clicked on your ads during the early stages of their research. This will keep your brand top of mind once a purchasing decision is finally made.

Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

4. Have Chatbots Provide Offers

Chatbots share personalized messages with each person who contacts the company with a question. Before they leave, and after having their questions answered, the chatbot has time to search through purchase history and match the person up with one of many promotions you have developed, and then share that deal with a special link.

Murray Newlands, Sighted

5. Create Helpful Content

Creating content may take effort, but if it answers your target customer’s questions and moves them down the buying funnel, there are few things more effective. Other methods may involve more push, but content helps you pull your prospects and customers in to learn more about your offerings.

Karl Kangur, MRR Media

6. Don’t Get Too Specific

Promote the sale, but don’t offer specifics. That way you will minimize sales decreases in the time leading up to Cyber Monday. People wait to stockpile their usual items on sales, but if they don’t know they will be on sale, it will maximize non-deal sales for better overall margin. Ambiguous terms like “Biggest sale ever!” can be used to pique interest without killing normal sales.

Marc Lobliner, TigerFitness.com and MTS Nutrition

7. Provide Early-Bird Specials

Promote your Cyber Monday deals through a social media campaign and offer a promo code they can use on Cyber Monday for larger discounts. This not only allows you to display your Cyber Monday deals, but also encourages customers to visit your site and take advantage of the promo code the day the deals become live. Start off with larger discounts and slowly decrease them as you approach Cyber Monday.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

8. Create Story Videos

Create videos that start highlighting what you have planned for the holidays. Make little stories around each product highlight to get people feeling warm and fuzzy about the upcoming holiday season. Include helpful hints for your audience as they start their shopping. Early shopping promotions can be included to start ramping up sales early on.

Angela Ruth, Calendar

9. Tap Into Amazon Deals

If you’re selling on Amazon — and if you’re not, you should be — take advantage of features such as Lightning Deals. While you have to provide a substantial discount, the volume you could generate during Cyber Monday or for the holidays is incredible, not to mention the additional exposure that comes along with it. Entire product lines can be popularized in this fashion.

Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

10. Offer Free Shipping

How many times have you wanted to buy a product but decided not to because of its shipping cost? Too many, I’ll bet. People love it when things are free. Free shipping is the cherry on top of your Cyber Monday discount sale sundae. Whether you use social media, your blog or ads to market your products, make sure that your customers know you can deliver your products free of charge.

Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

11. Hold Mini Sales Until the Big Day

Drum up excitement for the big sale with tiny daily sales that get unlocked every day until Cyber Monday. One great way to make this interesting is by bringing back every item that was on sale throughout the last few weeks so that anyone who missed the sale they wanted has one more chance!

Adam Steele, Loganix

12. Use Instagram’s Poll

Instagram Stories are becoming a popular platform for marketers — and with good reason! Instagram recently launched a tool called Poll that allows users to ask their audience interactive questions. This is a great way to let your audience pick what they want and get them excited. Using data to choose the perfect promotion will increase engagement and give you a great holiday season.

– Suneera Madhani, Fattmerchant

13. Get Strong Returns Through Facebook Canvas

Our ROI from Facebook Canvas ads has been over 50 times in some recent cases. Those ads are so visual and interactive that they really engage the users and drive them to act. For a Cyber Monday deal, use a Facebook Canvas ad to drive to a landing page with a wait list for the deal. Give a small incentive to the first set number of consumers on the list.

Brennan White, Cortex

14. Advertise Subscriber-Only Discounts

In the weeks before Cyber Monday, advertise subscriber-only discounts via social media, your blog and email. Only shoppers subscribed to your mailing list get the discounts. Encourage customers to share the discounts with their network. It’s a great way to generate advanced interest and build an email list of shoppers you can target with specific promotions.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

15. Partner With Niche Influencers

Influencers are a great way expand your reach and connect with consumers, but many people make the mistake of trying to find influencers with a wide reach rather than a deep one. Focus on influencers in a relevant niche and prioritize high-quality content. Build them into your Cyber Monday plan and share your promotions and sales with them, which they’ll share with their audience.

Kyle Goguen, Pawstruck

How to Make the Most Out of Cyber Monday and the Holidays

Now that you’ve read through some of the most actionable tips for ways to not only make more sales and generate Revenue during Cyber Monday but to also increase brand exposure for your service and products. it’s time for you to actually Implement some of these methods into your business.

In short, it doesn’t matter what you are selling on Cyber Monday, as long as you were selling something and giving your audience something to take advantage of. Everyone is going to have their credit card in hand and ready to buy like crazy.

This is simply the best opportunity for you to make additional money and generate sales like never before.

If you enjoyed this expert roundup, also be sure to check out our previous ones on the best ways to create buzz around your brand and twelve working methods to increase homepage traffic.

11 Ways to Reduce Churn Rates by Keeping Customer Card Data Up to Date

Losing a customer can be devastating for any business. Losing them because of a credit card decline that comes from outdated information is just plain frustrating. Keeping credit card information current is a necessity for all business owners, yet it is a task that gets little attention.

With the expansion of e-commerce, customers can make online purchases quicker and easier than ever before. When credit card declines occur, customers need to be able to update and input information quickly. You should stay on top of their expired information and update it regularly to ensure all purchases go through seamlessly when your customer wants to buy.

Below, 11 entrepreneurs from YEC share their strategies for minimizing credit card declines and increasing online revenue.

1. Send Email Reminders

Have multiple payment options available. For customers who pay using their cards, send out friendly reminder emails in case the card is about to expire, ideally one month before the expiry date. If the account shows outdated information, remind them well in advance. Give them a grace period, if really necessary, to update their account information. Customers will feel appreciated.

Liam Martin, Staff.com

2. Provide Other Payment Options

By offering other payment methods, such as digital wallets, e-cash, peer-to-peer payments, ACH and e-checks, there are ways to get around such churn rates. Plus the more payment methods offered, the more likely you are to retain and attract new customers, increasing your online revenue.

John Rampton, Calendar

3. Encourage Digital Wallets

Encourage customers to use a digital wallet feature so they can update all their information across all companies they buy from in one action. This will keep them from returning and shopping with outdated account information.

Drew Hendricks, Buttercup

4. Use a Payment Method Updater

Visa and MasterCard offer a service that automatically updates card information. Due to security measures, new cards are issued more frequently than ever before, making it inconvenient for your customers to constantly update card information. A payment method updater (PMU) can stop declined payments from happening, but this could still creep out your customer so get their permission first.

Karl Kangur, MRR Media

5. Use Recurly to Do the Work for You

Recurly has saved us thousands of dollars (and tons of following up). It’s a simple app that integrates with all e-commerce systems. When you sign up with Recurly, all of your repeat customers will be notified automatically when their cards are expiring. It’s a simple platform for customers, and anyone who intends to do business with you will find it easy to keep doing so.

– Aaron Schwartz, Passport

6. Give Them a Call

From my personal experience, the most effective way for a company to reach out to me and to get me to update or confirm my billing information is for them to give me a call. Email reminders are great too, but a phone call is even more effective.

Andrew Namminga, Andesign

7. Use Stripe

Stripe and some other payment processors have largely solved the problem of outdated cards. Stripe works with MasterCard, Visa and other credit card providers to ensure that customer cards still work after the card has been replaced. The system has limitations, but it takes care of many outdated card issues.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

8. Fix the Problem Before It Happens

Fixing the problem before it happens is the only true way to avoid those declined cards. Reaching out to your customers before their cards expire will help you retain repeat customers for much longer than if you allow cards to be declined. Use payment technology that alerts merchants when a card stored in the system is about to expire, making it easy to update records and get paid.

Suneera Madhani, Fattmerchant

9. Set Automated Expiration Date Detection Functionality

Have a basic script set up that automatically detects what cards are about to expire and sends the customer an email reminder to update their credit card information via a direct link. If you do not have this functionality, there are third-party solutions that provide similar functionalities. We use this with our e-commerce clients who have recurring products or orders.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

10. Ask for a Backup Credit Card

Ask your customers for a backup credit card to keep on file in the event that charges cannot be put through on the primary card. Savvy companies like Google and Amazon asked me to input a backup credit card when I signed up for services such as Google AdWords and Amazon Prime. All recurring revenue businesses can and should be equally astute.

Adam Mendler, Beverly Hills Chairs

11. Offer Financing to Customers

A simple solution for avoiding failed credit card payments is to utilize services like Affirm or PayPal Credit. These services take on the credit risk and you receive the total order price upfront. The advantages to these services are that you decrease your accounts receivable and save time by not having to dedicate an employee to track down customers to update their credit card information.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

Reduce Churn Rate by Implementing these Expert Tips

No one likes the thought of churn rates and the real numbers behind companies and how much money they are losing with subscribers or recurring subscription drops. However, this is part of the business industry and it’s something that needs to be addressed. If you are currently ignoring drop off rate within your company, be sure to implement some of the expert tips above while also checking out their recommended tools and solutions.

If you enjoyed this expert round up, I highly recommend you take a look at this roundup with 83 online marketing experts and their best advice on “How Do I Start a Successful Blog?“. If you don’t already have a website or blog of your own, follow my blogging guide to getting started with one today.

5 Quick Tips to Create Amazing Explainer Videos that Increase Sales

Explainer videos are simply one of the best ways to convert an audience into a high-quality lead or sale. We all know the power of online video and how effective it is with not only audience engagement and grabbing attention, but also with an increase in conversions and ranking higher in the search results. The big question is… why are so many websites, bloggers, and brands still sitting on the sidelines when it comes to video content creation and usage?

If you take a look at any of the most popular services or products on the internet today, most of them have an explainer video on their main page. The reason why explainer videos work so well is that more audiences are choosing video over text and images than ever before. After all, wouldn’t you rather watch a short 30-second video on why or how something works, versus reading a 500-word article? Of course, you would… and at the same time, with attention spans now being lower than ever, video might just be the best way to connect with your audience and convert them on the first time around.

With all of that in mind, it’s important to continually stress the importance of online video and how easy it is to actually get started. Today we are going to be taking a look at this simple five-step process to get started with your own explainer video.

1 – Start with a Script

Before investing some time and money into an explainer video of your own, you’re going to have to think about what you want to explain to your audience, how you are going to address their problem and ultimately solve it in the process. This can all be done through the use of an explainer video, but you are going to want to write up a script before moving forward. Doing this beforehand will not only save you time, money and resources, it will also help with the overall value and creation process.

2 – Choose Your Video Creation Platform

While there are many ways to create online videos, explainer videos are slightly different in how they are made. In most cases, a great explainer video is either done through custom design or through the use of whiteboard animation. One of the best platforms out there for creating whiteboard animations is mysimpleshow. Not only does their platform have an easy-to-use drag-and-drop platform, it’s also one of the most cost-effective solutions out there. Create an account for free to benefit from what that video creation and storyline templates have to offer, or upgrade to one of their business plans to have complete customization and control of your video creation projects.

3 – Bring Your Content and Words to Life

How many times have you been to a website or blog and read their text content and simply weren’t impressed? Now think about the times you went to a website selling a service or product and they had an explainer video to demonstrate or walk you through the process. This was probably a lot more convincing. More often than not, explainer videos will increase the likelihood of your audience acting on an offer and purchasing right away. That’s because video and audio connect with an audience like never before. In addition to a script, it’s important for you to map out how your explainer video is going to visualize what you have to offer while also making it easy for your audience to understand and getting them to want to act right now.

4 – Record a Great Voice Over

Many businesses and brands will create an explainer video but simply stop at the animation and script part. If you want to have an effective explainer video, you need to add a voiceover. This can be done through anyone on your team, yourself, or even a professional. Platforms like mysimpleshow also offer the ability to transcribe text to audio, which is a great option for anyone that doesn’t want to create a video using their own voice or might not speak English. No matter what route you go with on the on the voiceover, make sure it’s professional, high quality and gains trust from your audience while also being welcoming in the process.

Explainer videos have also been noted as one of the best ways to create online video without being on camera. In this article from Entrepreneur, you can see some of the many benefits to going with an explainer video over a ‘talking heads’ video, such as the ability to capture the viewer’s attention and increase click-through rate. However, one of the biggest draws to explainer videos is that you won’t need to put on the makeup, make sure your room is clean and have a professional photographer or camera equipment in the process.

5 – Effectively Market and Promote Your Explainer Video

Once you’ve had an explainer video created for your site, it’s time to put it to good use. If you want to get the most out of your explainer video, you are going to need to know how to effectively promote it in the right places and get it in front of your target audience. The first thing you are going to want to do is to place this explainer video on your main site or sales page. However, that is only part of the process. Thanks to the power of social media, you can start answering relevant questions that might apply to your business, while redirecting users back to your site and explainer video. The option is also there to create original content on your blog, thus incorporating your explainer video to complement the content. At the same time, you don’t want to stop with just one explainer video. If you have a high-end ticket item or something that provides a lot more value to people, you can create new explainer videos to target different audiences and then use those videos to market your product as well.

Increase Conversions and Engagement with Explainer Videos

As you can see, with only five simple steps you can get started with an online explainer video of your own. If you aren’t currently using online video to grow your brand reach and increase conversions, I highly recommend you get started today. With more people now using their mobile devices and tablet to browse the internet and find engaging content, this means ‘text content’ is on the way out and video is here to stay.

It’s now more important than ever to incorporate explainer videos and video marketing into your online business strategy. Follow the quick tips and working methods mentioned above, while also keeping an eye on your competition and seeing how they are currently using online video and explainer videos to improve their businesses and customer acquisitions.

How to Keep Your Ecommerce Site Thriving During a Traffic Spike

Most days in the world of business and ecommerce are fairly run of the mill; you can expect a typical amount of traffic and standard sales figures. In other words, it’s business as usual. But what about those special days when engagement is off the charts? This can happen as a result of content or promotions going viral, the release of new coupons getting distributed on mega forums or coupon sites or simply a mailing going out to your customer list to increase sales.

However, once you start thinking about holiday promotions and throwing big shopping days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday into the mix, then things can really get crazy! During flash sales and holiday specials (not to mention after successful promotions), your ecommerce store suddenly becomes the go-to destination for online shoppers. With this in mind… do you have the server capabilities and scalability to make sure your site is up and running at all times?

No matter what you know about your site and servers at the moment, this is a good problem to have… you just need to make sure your site can accommodate it before such events actually take place. Unfortunately, only 27 percent of small and medium-sized businesses are currently equipped to handle a 200 percent increase in traffic. Prepping your ecommerce site for a traffic spike now will pay off in spades down the line. Here’s how to get ready for these engagements.

Review Previous Sales

It’s difficult to chart the future of your online store if you don’t know where you’ve been. Analyzing past data (and patterns over time) helps you know what to expect.

Let’s say you’re launching an annual storewide clearance event to help move the remnants of last season’s inventory. Before it goes live, you should review year-over-year sales for said event, not to mention the effectiveness of your previous promotional campaigns. You can also determine whether the sale attracted mostly new or returning customers and how they entered your site. With this information in hand, you’ll know what to expect and how to maximize traffic and sales leading up to the big day in order to host your highest-earning event to date.

Focus on Scalable Servers

The most basic principle of handling a traffic spike is, well, a website that fundamentally works. If your server crashes ten minutes into what was supposed to be your biggest sale of the year, your revenue will take a major hit and your customers’ loyalty will erode. Conducting an enterprise ecommerce platform comparison well before your next big event can help you choose a flexible, cloud-based solution to handle the ups and downs of ecommerce.

In order to accommodate a traffic peak (and each subsequent one after that), consider the benefits of a cloud platform. Why? As one Forbes contributor writes, “Cloud platforms are sometimes called ‘elastic.’ In a nutshell, this means they’re designed for fast scaling. New servers can be deployed quickly, and available resources can be increased to accommodate almost any demand.”

Stock Up on Inventory

Even if shoppers can enter your site during a period of heavy traffic, can they fill their carts with their favorite products? As an eager customer, nothing is more of a letdown than seeing “Out of Stock” printed underneath the very item you wanted to buy. These visitors want to give your store money! In return, you must offer them a plentiful inventory full of products ready to be shipped—not backordered, not “coming soon.”

Just as it’s important to plan your back-end deployment, it’s important to engage in inventory planning before any high-traffic sales event. Beef up the numbers on bestsellers and make sure there’s a quick way to restock if numbers run low. You can even set up automatic reordering below a certain threshold to make sure your store never runs dry.

Run a Trial on Multiple Devices

The last step before you go live is testing your ecommerce site for yourself—on desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. It’s not about just making sure your site is responsive and viewable on all devices, its also about making sure your shopping cart and ordering process works correctly as well. Keep in mind, ordering through a desktop and mobile device are two completely different processes. You need to make sure this is set up to be completed as fast and easy as possible. After all, your shoppers will be accessing your online shop from all of these endpoints. Check for laggy graphics, poor user experience (UX) and accessibility issues. By looking at your site through your customers’ eyes, you’ll be able to optimize their shopping experience.

It’s never too early to start prepping your ecommerce site for a traffic spike. This is something many site owners and online busineses won’t find out until it’s too late… often referred to as one of the many pitfalls of running an ecommerce site. A successful online sales event means establishing your expectations, providing a great UX to shoppers, avoiding costly server downtime, carefully managing your inventory and learning from past mistakes.

Monetize Your Site Traffic with MediaVenus Native Advertising

The world of online marketing and business consists of many different components — advertisers, brands, websites, media outlets, and affiliates. While each of them are unique in their own way, there is definitely a surplus in the industry of each, so when it does come time to pick where you are buying traffic from, what ad networks you are working with and which affiliate offers you are promoting, it’s always best to do the necessary research and make sure you are working with the best. If this was something everyone spent a little more time on, we would all benefit from better traffic, leads and ROI.

Speaking of leads and ROI, one of the best ways to increase revenue and reach is through the use of native advertising. Not only is it a growing advertising medium, it’s also being used on many of the most visited and trusted websites and blogs on the internet today. The revenue being generated from such campaigns is through the roof, as the user engagement on these ad placements is usually multiples higher than that of traditional banner or contextual advertising.

One network that is focusing heavily in this space is MediaVenus. The native advertising network has been running campaigns for advertisers, while also providing site owners with a consistent flow of monetization solutions since 2014. With over 110,000 publishers and advertisers now on their network, they are definitely a name you should be keeping an eye on. As for reach, they have that covered as well — which includes access to nearly all of the world’s countries and ad placements available in more than 50 different languages.

Let’s take a look at what MediaVenus has to offer and how they can start generating money for your site or online business.

MediaVenus Native Advertising Network

MediaVenus is a native advertising network that is based out of London, but they are also actually part of the Leadbit family — which already has a large history and coverage in the online marketing space. Through this native advertising platform, users can gain access to a wide range of ad placements, advertising widgets, traditional banner ads and mobile optimized ads. In short, no matter what industry or audience you might be looking to target, MediaVenus has the platform and partners in place to get the job done.

What makes MediaVenus different from other advertising platforms is that they have their own widgets for serving ad placements on nearly any area of a website or blog. As you’ve likely seen on other websites like Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc, the best area for native advertising is often right after the article ends. This is a great way to increase revenue, as you are then giving the user a call to action after they are done with this articles — thus the high click through rates and higher CPMs which have been seen through native advertising as a monetization source. Another advertising method on MediaVenus that has been proven to work well is pop-up advertising. Just like with ads at the end of an article, any type of “in your face” marketing is going to increase user engagement, clicks, and revenue.

With all of this in mind, MediaVenus has access to traffic from all around the world and instead of going into specific niche markets or geographic regions, they have the platform and proven business model in place to look at advertising on a global scale. This means site partners will have access to campaigns for 200+ countries, which will target audiences from a wide range of verticals, such as including beauty and health-related goods, accessories, dating, mobile services, electronics, online earning and gambling (where legally permitted).

Depending on your traffic and audience, there is also a selection of adult-oriented (18+) advertisers on the network as well. The option is always there to opt out of ad campaigns and advertisements that might not be right for your audience, but it’s also good to know the option is there for anyone already in this space.

How Publisher Benefit from MediaVenus

Traffic volume and quality are always going to be key to the success of an ad network, however, it’s also important to increase site partners, while not limiting too many. Some of the highest quality content sites on the internet might only get a few thousand visits per month, so why limit them access to a premium ad network? This is exactly what MediaVenus had in mind when deciding on their publisher selection process.

To qualify for a publisher account with MediaVenus, a website must attract a minimum of 500 unique visitors per day. The option is also there to provide third-party access to Google Analytics should you want to prove the actual amount of traffic flowing through your site. This is not a requirement, but it will speed up the approval process if you decide to provide it.

After applying for an account with MediaVenus, you will then have access to the member’s login area. Like most networks, this is pretty self-explanatory. All navigation and account settings can be found at the top of the page, which will provide you access your websites, statistics, news, tickets, balance, and profile. I should also note that MediaVenus does have a 5% referral program, which can be accessed and promoted in the “Referrals” section in the top header as well.

What you will also notice is that there isn’t a link to view offers or advertisers on the network. There also isn’t a location to generate ad codes or affiliate links. Instead, MediaVenus uses their widget platform to provide each partner site with its own unique code. Once your site is approved, you will then have the opportunity to generate your which, which can be customized to serve CPC or CPM based advertising.

In addition to CPC and CPM based advertising, pop-under advertising is also available through the network. Inter-content videos with autoplay will also soon be available through MediaVenus as well.

Depending on the monetization method you choose, publishers will then have the option to configure their ad widgets based on banner size and page position. Site targeting options also appear within this section as well — which includes the ability to show ads for audiences of 18+ in age, or if you’d like to display the logo of an advertiser — which has also been proven to increase site revenue.

 

With your widget settings updated and ready, it’s then time to grab the Javascript code provided by the platform, and adding it to your site.

Another benefit of working with MediaVenus is that they have weekly payments sent out to their publishers, and their minimum payment threshold is only $15. This is much lower than nearly all other ad networks, especially when paying out on a weekly basis. Publishers will receive a revenue share of 90% and payments can be issued via PayPal, wire transfer, Paxum, e-Payments, Capitalist or WebMoney.

Every publisher will also receive a specific account manager to help with any questions you might have, or how to improve optimization of ad placements on your site. Another benefit of MediaVenus having a global reach and audience is that their support team is also multilingual.

Advertisers Benefit with MediaVenus Too

We already covered the benefits of working with MediaVenus as a site owner and publisher, but what if you are an advertiser and looking to reach new audiences? Of course, MediaVenus has premium services on that side of the business as well. While the traffic and platform are best suited for advertisers in the verticals of health and beauty products, mobile apps, weight loss and diet products and programs, e-commerce, dating, and adult content, there are still opportunities to explore other options as well.

The first step in this process is to simply visit the MediaVenus site and sign up as an advertiser. You will then be able to connect with their team to make sure your targeting and ad campaigns are set up as effectively as possible.

The real power of MediaVenus can be seen in their advertising backend that allows for very detailed audience targeting. With more than 110,000 publishers on the network, this is a must have for advertisers, as quality control and split testing of different verticals and traffic is key.

MediaVenus also allows for the targeting of audiences based on their browser, operating system, and mobile devices. With mobile usage on the rise like never before, knowing where your audience is coming from and how they are engaging with your content and landing pages is key. Not all traffic sources at the same, so it’s recommended to set up different campaigns for both desktop and mobile traffic.

For advertisers, traffic and lead quality are always going to be key. MediaVenus and the Leadbit team always have the highest of standards when it comes to the partners they accept into their network, while also having their own internal blacklists to ensure all campaigns are properly optimized and tracked at all times.

How to Make the Most with MediaVenus

As with all money making and advertising opportunities online, it’s all about taking action and seeing how a platform might work for you. The good news is that MediaVenus is working with both advertisers and site owners, so no matter what medium you fall into, there is a good chance for you to find success with their network.

To get started, simply sign up as a publisher or as an advertiser and you will soon be contacted by the MediaVenus team and set up with your own account access.

How to Safely Manage Your Digital Files and Customer Data

As online businesses and entrepreneurs, we can all appreciate the power and value of data on the internet today. No longer do we need to download and install software to a computer and be limited to where we can access our work or data online. At the same time, the costs of data storage and web space are also now cheaper than ever. With so much information constantly being uploaded, created and accessible on the internet, the business of online security is booming. While all of this is going on, it’s also important to understand why and how your data is being stored and if it’s being protected in the process.

Quick Tips for Keeping Your Personal Data and Customer Information Safe

The ability to store thousands of digital files in a single location has eliminated the pressure that a person might otherwise feel to organize those files if they were physical documents or materials that were cluttering up a desk or bookshelf. The “out of sight, out of mind” principal helps a person to ignore the clutter that is likely buried in their personal workstations, laptops, tablets and smartphones. But that lack of organization elevates that person’s cybersecurity risks. A physical document that includes sensitive personal or financial information can be shredded and destroyed, but a digital file that contains the same information can lay hidden forever.

Safe management of digital files begins with organizing those files into digital folders according to a consistent filing structure. Businesses with several employees can use a commercial document management system to automate this task. Duplicate digital files should be deleted to avoid losing track of sensitive information. Create a separate index of files to allow easy access to and recovery of data. Folders and sub-folders can become overly complicated, and a business that is not relying on a management system should develop its own folder filing system and naming strategy to minimize those complications.

Even with such protections in place, the number of attacks on personal data and customer information is still growing daily. Kaspersky reports 62% of people have experienced attacks involving their financial data, while 61% of those people were never able to fully recover data that was lost due to a cyber attack.

Document management should be coupled with a data backup strategy. Some commercial document management systems automatically back data up into the cloud. If cloud backup is used, make sure that all data sent to the cloud is encrypted at the time of the backup process. If cloud backup is not used, data can be backed up onto external hard drives, SSD devices, or other media that is disconnected from any online environment and stored in a secure location.

Customer files and other sensitive data can be further protected with hashing and salting routines. Hashing will authenticate messages to confirm the legitimacy of an information request. Salting adds extra values to passwords to make them more difficult for a password hacking algorithm to guess. When used with end-to-end encryption, hashing and salting will create an even more secure data management environment.

The Business of Keeping Personal Data and Company Information Safe

While these tasks might seem simple enough, data protection is a 24/365 game of defense for nearly all businesses and brands in the world today. With company and customer data being more crucial to protect than ever before, Microsoft recently came out with their own stats and infographic on the matter. Highlights from the report noted the following:

  • 140+ Days – The average number of days a hacker sits on your network before they are detected.
  • $12M – The average cost a business is impacted by for each security breach.
  • 72% of the U.S. workforce will be mobile by 2020, relying on devices other than their laptop to be productive.
  • 87% of senior managers admit to regularly uploading work files to a personal email or cloud account.

You can see even more information through the visual infographic below.

Unfortunately, even the safest management of digital files will not guarantee their protection from hackers who are intent on stealing the information in those files. In 2016, for example, the commercial cloud backup provider, Dropbox, suffered a data breach that leaked details of more than 68 million user accounts. Information in those accounts that was encrypted or otherwise locked down with hashing and salting was better protected from loss, largely because hackers will go after data that is easier to access without wasting time trying to break through encryption and other protections. Still, those data files did fall into cyberattackers’ hands and still remain at risk of being unencrypted.

Even with the potential for a data breach at all times, data storage platforms like Dropbox are still in massive demand and their usage numbers just continue to keep growing over time. Take a look at the chart below to see how Dropbox has scaled from their initial launch in 2008 to having more than 500 million users today. The massive growth behind Dropbox all started with their referral program that would reward users with extra space in exchange for referring a new Dropbox user. The funny thing about this process is that Dropbox was already ahead of the data storage game before many other companies and brands jumped into the mix.

Eight years later and Dropbox is still the largest player in this space, thanks to their five times faster sync on average versus competitors, having released over 90+ product updates in the past year and also having 500 billion calls to the Dropbox API per year. All of this is ultimately in place to not only scale the company in size, but to also protect customer data and files as well.

In addition to the massive business of online data storage and data protection, there is also going to be a world of opportunities for affiliate marketers to make money in this space as well — which includes everything from data monitoring, spyware software and data notification platforms that are constantly monitoring personal information and mentions online. The more money and competition that flows into this space, the more money there are for advertisers, affiliates and the sites covering such data and resources.

Personal and Customer Data Manage Best Practices are Key

At the end of the day, the more we talk about data management and the potential downsides and hacks that come along with it, it’s simply a matter of keeping us all aware of such conditions and informing each other on better ways to protect our information. There is no doubt that online data storage and customer data will continue to be hacked and released on the dark web by hackers, but there are also some precautions everyone can do to keep their data safe. The unfortunate truth is that most of these leaks will likely come from other companies and brands that already have customer information, and will soon be attacked.

Good digital file management can therefore raise the bar for cyber protection, but it cannot stop a cyberattack that potentially compromises data in those digital files. The question that frequently comes up during a data file management project is “what is liability insurance and how does it fit into management of data files?” The simple answer is that cybersecurity insurance reimburses direct losses that a business might experience when hackers break through its cyber defenses, and provides funds to pay certain liabilities to third parties and fines from regulatory authorities that are levied when sensitive customer data is lost.

One of the more consistent recommendations for good data file management is that doing something is better than nothing at all, and that a management project should be started as soon as is possible. Hackers and cyberattackers are working every day to find new gaps in cybersecurity procedures as older gaps are closed off. Managing data files and adding cybersecurity insurance can keep businesses and individuals at least one step ahead of the hackers.

To learn more about the costs associated with cybercrimes and data leaks, be sure to always keep an eye on the latest data leaks in the business world, and also set up something as simple as a “Google Alerts” notification around your personal name to see when and where your information might be posted online.

Invoicing Etiquette: 5 Tips for Productive Communication

Sometimes getting paid for your work can be more difficult than actually doing it. Tracking down outstanding payments, asking for money and following up with clients can feel like a cat-and-mouse game at times. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an easier way to ensure that you receive accurate and timely payments for your various projects?

Sticking to invoicing etiquette can help keep your professional communications productive and fruitful. For example, a client who is impressed by how smooth and pleasant it is to work with you may seek you out for future gigs. On the other hand, responding to invoicing issues harshly may burn bridges and narrow down your pool of contacts in the future.

Here are five tips for following optimal invoicing etiquette.

Set Your Terms Up Front

Let’s put it this way: An invoice shouldn’t hold any surprises for your clients. The bill should be par for the course because both parties established payment and delivery terms much earlier in the process. The precursor to any successful invoicing process is a well-written contract. At the same time, also be sure to have your full company information and branding on your invoices. This will not only look more professional, it will also help with invoicing and payments for both parties.

…And Make Them Specific

What should your contract contain? The more specifics, the better. The Balance recommends including these components to make your contract foolproof:

  • A job number for each project (so you can track it over time)
  • Job description (explain the scope of work and the deliverables)
  • Timeline for completion
  • Payment terms (when, how much, what method)
  • Space for signatures and dates

You can see a full breakdown of The Balance’s tips for better invoicing below.

Send Timely Invoices

After working hard on a project for a client, you wrap up the last detail and send it along. When should you send an invoice? You can save yourself a headache and a costly delay by invoicing your client immediately. Invoicing on the day of completion (rather than waiting two or more weeks for a new billing cycle) means you’re nearly 1.5 times more likely to get paid, based on research analyzing 250,000 invoices.

Assuming that your client will remember to pay you is a recipe for disaster, as is leaving a gap between when you finish a job and when you send an invoice. Ask for payment when the project is still fresh in everyone’s minds and you’ll get better results.

…And Make Them Accurate

Nothing is more counterproductive than sending an invoice with incorrect information. Or sending it to the wrong client. Or sending a generic invoice that’s missing key identifying information. Remember, your clients (just like you) could be juggling many invoices at once; sending timely and accurate statements is a favor to your clients and to your own workflow.

Online invoicing software can help you uphold professional etiquette and streamline your approach to payments. Remember those numbered contracts from above? Using a cloud-based platform like Due can help you keep track of every project from start to finish. And to top it all off, automatic late payment reminders help you keep the lines of communication open if there’s ever an issue with a deposit.

No matter what type of business services or products you are selling, it’s extremely important to make sure you have control over your outgoing, incoming, paid and due invoices at all times. You can see a preview of what a platform like Due offers for invoice tracking and management in the screenshot below.

Be Polite

When you’re down a few hundred or thousands of dollars in income, it’s frustrating. You know you’re right; you delivered the work on time and held up your end of the bargain. But it’s important to stay polite and professional in your communications with the client. You don’t want an important client relationship to sour because you snapped at them after a single invoice got lost in the shuffle. Stay polite yet firm (and persistent) and you’ll get the resolution you’re seeking.

When it comes to your business, every contract, invoice and email matters. Follow these five tips for productive communications when it comes to invoicing etiquette.

14 Smart Techniques to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment

Losing a customer late in the shopping cycle can be frustrating. Customers have gone through the full call-to-action process, filled their carts and are all set to check out, and then they vanish, leaving you asking yourself what went wrong.

Is there confusion about next steps? Did something on the page spook them? Did they lack confidence in the site’s security, or did they feel like you were asking for too much information?

To find out, 14 members from YEC share how to decrease online shopping cart abandonment late in the purchase cycle. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Set Shopper Expectations Early in the Purchase Cycle

A shopper cares about what they are buying, how much they are spending, how long it’ll take to get the product, how safe they are and what information they need to disclose. Make the process as frictionless and informative as possible. For example, don’t surprise them with shipping costs, out-of-stock items and forced account creation late in the process. It dramatically increases abandonment.

Erik Bullen, MageMail

2. Focus on Performance

Slow shopping carts lead to cart abandonment, and that goes double for mobile. Before you start split testing and tweaking your shopping cart experience, get the fundamentals right: Make sure the back-end and front-end performance is where it should be.

Justin Blanchard, ServerMania Inc.

3. Use Social Sign-Ons

Registration is a valuable source of data for e-commerce retailers, but the registration process is a major cause of abandoned shopping carts. No one likes being asked to fill out forms, especially on mobile. Social sign-in services like Facebook Login allow users to steam through the registration process and provides retailers with a valid identity and useful data.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

4. Look Professional

Would you buy (insert any name) product/service from someone who looked like they had just crawled out of a sewer? Likewise, I’ve personally bailed on many websites because their checkout forms or processes just looked sketchy, which raised questions about security and reliability, etc. So if you want to close sales, your checkout form has to instill confidence, and looks play an important part in doing that.

Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

5. Clearly Communicate Shipping Costs

People abandon their carts when there are surprises. One surprise commonly found in shopping carts? Unexpected shipping costs. Amazon does an extraordinary job of clearly communicating shipping costs throughout the customer shopping experience. E-commerce store owners should take note, and attempt to show customers what their final cost will be before reaching a cart page.

Brett Farmiloe, Markitors

6. Use Cart Abandonment Popup and Recovery Emails

A cart abandonment popup, combined with a recovery email system, can significantly reduce your shopping cart abandonment late in the purchase cycle. This technique is proven to work and can significantly add to the bottom line of any e-commerce business. We use it on all of our e-commerce properties.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

7. Have an Autofill Form

People hate re-entering their information, so having an autofill form for them helps keep them there to finish. Integrate with Google and other technology so you can opt for that type of information storage and auto-entry when they are a new customer.

Angela Ruth, Due

8. Don’t Offer a Coupon Field

We have found that a lot of our cart abandonments happen because customers go looking for coupons. This was a result of us prominently displaying a coupon field in our checkout. Because our customers realized that there must be a coupon in existence, they dropped their carts in search of coupons online. As soon as we removed our coupon field (and coupons altogether) we saw a drop in abandonments.

Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

9. Have a Live Chat to Answer Immediate Questions

If a customer is on the cart page and sees something they have a question about, such as higher prices or shipping, they will likely be frustrated. If there is a live chat customer service agent available to answer their questions, they are much more likely to complete the checkout. There is a reason retail stores have people there to help you. Why should an online store be any different?

Scott Kacmarski, Reps Direct

10. Don’t Ask for Too Much Information

While more information is always nicer to have than less, it’s not always worth the risk of losing customers. Adding unnecessary form fields in the final moments of checkout is a great way to make a customer stop and think about what they’re doing or second-guess handing their information to you. Take only what information you need and explain why you need it.

Andrew Saladino, Kitchen Cabinet Kings

11. Address Areas of Concern

Add some promise details to ensure customers feel comfortable with the purchase. This can be elements like your return policy, a badge stating you have a secure site, price guarantees, etc. Addressing potential areas of hesitation will help the user feel confident with the order, especially if they have never worked with you previously.

Travis Nagle, Stem

12. Streamline Your Checkout Process

Your checkout page should be just that: one page with only the necessary form fields. For physical storefronts, the age-old business practice was to make paying the easiest part of the shopping process — customers should be able to pay quickly and without a hint of a hindrance. Online shopping should be equally streamlined, as people should be able to make a purchase with as little effort as possible.

Bryce Welker, Crush The CPA Exam

13. Offer Multiple Payment Options

It is important to offer multiple payment options so that your customers have the flexibility of choosing how they pay. Offering multiple payment options minimizes a key reason a customer will abandon their online shopping cart. A single pay option will not only turn off customers but push them toward the competition. Customers are less inclined to make a purchase when they have limited options.

Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC

14. Don’t Force Commitment

Allow the shopper to edit the shopping bag or cart as much as they like until they’re officially ready to check out. A favorite online shoe retailer of mine actually allows online shoppers to “save” their shopping bag for later, in case shoppers have to leave the site. It’s exclusive to shoppers that are logged in, and when something in your bag is in limited supply, you receive a notification.

Cody McLain, SupportNinja

 

Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment and Increase Earnings

Many businesses and brands are focusing their efforts on new ways to market their sales and increase online sales. However, if they were to simply spend more time on their shopping cart conversions and lowering their abandonment rate, they could be seeing a massive swing in conversions and profits. Implement as many of the shopping cart recommendations above into your existing ecommerce site and don’t forget to split test your results to see what improvements have been made.

To see more expert roundups like this one, be sure to view our previous articles on the next big trends in digital marketing and how to increase your site traffic on a small budget.

The Future of Email and Mobile Marketing for Your Business

If you want to successfully make money online and run a business that lasts for years to come, you need to be focusing on your email marketing. Over the past 20 years, I’ve been able to see firsthand the massive power of email marketing and how it’s gone from it’s most simple form of “You’ve Got Mail” on AOL, to now being used for list building, automation and retargeting. At the same time, something even more amazing about email is that everyone is still using it.

Websites have changed, social media has changed and now mobile devices are taking over — but email is still one of the most important and effective ways to still communicate with one another today.

With all of this talk on email, let’s cover some of the best ways you should be using email data, collection and marketing within your own business — starting today!

Individual Email Marketing Outreach is Dead

As a blogger and owner of many sites, I get a ton of emails every day from random people with the same requests — asking if they can guest post on my sites or if I would like content to post. In most cases, no — I’m not interested, and it’s usually very clear in these emails that they are automated and sent out in a mass scale. It gets annoying, but that’s how the industry is. However, what you do need to know, is that it works!

When it comes to email marketing and any type of outreach, it’s all about the numbers. If you send out enough emails and ask for something to enough people, you are eventually going to get some replies and even a few who are interested.

In the past, this was a huge pain. You would need to compile a list of names and emails, then manually send out an email to each person. Sure, it was more personal and probably worked better, but it was also tedious and extremely time-consuming.

Now, there are better options in place. One such solution is called Mailshake, which makes the process of promoting content, building relationships, and generating leads a whole lot easier. Instead of needing to do all of that manual work, a solution like Mailshake allows you to import user data, create automatic follow-ups when someone replies, allows for calendar optimization to make sure your emails are sent out at the best times and of course built-in personalization. If you are actively promoting any type of content or looking to build new relationships through cold email marketing, this is a tool you should definitely keep an eye on.

Website to Email to Mobile Device

As mentioned at the beginning of the article, we’ve seen some massive transitions over the past decade when it comes to how content is created and delivered on the internet today. Email is still one of the best ways to get your message delivered, but when you start playing around with mobile devices, things can really start getting exciting.

Desktop traffic is on a downward spiral, while tablet and mobile viewing continue to rise. What does this mean for site owners who rely on desktop and search traffic? Simple… make sure your sites are optimized and responsive for viewing on all devices, but also have a plan in place to engage with your mobile audience as well.

A common problem for many brands and online businesses is getting their site visitors and customers to actually download their mobile applications. This is usually a process of the user visiting a website, maybe putting in their email and needing to click the download link, then getting distracted and lost in the application store — all leading to fewer application downloads and sales for the company.

A better solution is through the use of text messaging and collecting a user’s mobile address, then sending them a direct download to the app right to their phone. Keep in mind, a person’s mobile device number is very important to them, but when they want something of value and are looking for instant gratification, they are more than willing to give it up — especially when it’s from a brand or service they trust.

Creating Opt-In Subscribe Forms for Desktop and Mobile

We already know the importance of collecting emails through the use of popup windows and subscribe forms on our sites. However, when it comes to email collection through mobile devices and tablets, it’s not so easy. There are a few different reasons for this, such as Google penalties for sites using too many or too obtrusive popups and layovers, and also how they can annoy a mobile device user when they are trying to read or access content.

In either case, the option for not using a subscribe form on your site or for your mobile traffic is not acceptable. One of the best options out there for accomplishing this is OptinMonster. Not only do they have the hottest application on the market for increasing email signups and engagement on your site, they also have built-in popup windows and layovers built specifically for mobile devices as well — all while also being compliant with Google terms and conditions.

Email Marketing is Still the Future for Your Business

No matter where you might currently be with your existing business, email marketing should still be a major focusing point. More than 70% of the people that visit your site for the first time are going to leave and never come back. This is just the way the numbers work… and the only way to keep them coming back for more is by grabbing their email address, mobile number or getting them to download your app. Be sure to implement each of these strategies into your business model and marketing efforts today so you aren’t left in the dust behind your competition who already has such practices already in place.

3 Powerful Ways to Instantly Increase Lead Captures on Your Site

We all know the value in creating great content to keep users coming back to our site. However, the hardest part of this whole process is to actually keep them coming back. Did you know that more than 70% of the traffic that visits your site for the first time will likely never come back? It’s true, and unfortunately, it really has nothing to do with the content of your site or the value it provides. It’s simply a numbers game and there is way too much information out there for everyone to consume… let alone remember to come back to your site in the future.

With all of this in mind, this is why it’s so extremely important to make sure you are collecting email address as often as you can. Gone are the days when you slap a subscription box on the right side menu of your site and hope for the best. Nowadays, the most effective lead capture solutions are all about exit popups, welcome mats, content lockers and retargeting

Today I’m going to provide you with three powerful tools and resources to help you increase email conversions, while also increasing return traffic to your site for months to come.

Welcome Mats and Popup Windows Still Work Extremely Well

When it comes to really getting in the face of your audience and giving them an opportunity to provide you with their email address in exchange for something free, ‘in your face’ lead generation methods still work extremely well. And while some people may consider these methods abusive or annoying, at the end of the day… they work! Not only do they work, but they can also be set up so they will only appear during a set number of days based on how often visitors come to your site.

One of the best software solutions out there for accomplishing this is OptinMonster. This easy to use WordPress plugins makes the process of creating lead generation forms and popup windows extremely easy. You’ve likely already seen it being used on some of your favorite blogs and top media sites in the world today.

What makes OptinMonster special over other ‘popup’ lead generation tools, is the powerful backend platforms, tracking, and customization that comes along with it. You can take a look at some of their advanced tools and features below.

Remarketing is a Targeted Advertising on Steroids

How many times have you left a website or online store, only to find their advertisements following you around on other websites that you tend to visit? Even more creepy… then you start to see them within your Facebook Ads stream and even on Twitter and Instagram.

While this may seem slightly creepy to the average internet user, it’s a dream come true for online marketers and brands around the world. Remarketing is simply the concept of placing a tracking pixel on your site and then displaying advertisements to your audience after they leave (especially if you can track those audiences that didn’t convert the first time around). The reason why remarketing works so well is simple. Only audiences who came to your site are going to see these custom display ads — which results in higher click-through rates, engagement, and lower costs.

Best of all, there are several different ways to start serving this type of advertising through your favorite ad platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Adwords. Neil Patel has an excellent guide on remarketing that walks you through the process on not only how to set this up on both platforms but also working examples of how other brands are using these same methods to increase conversions and revenue overnight.

Convert Your Main Page into a Lead Gen Form

Many websites and blogs start off with the most basic form of content creation, which is to come out with new articles, tutorials and case studies every few days/weeks, while also becoming a valuable resource in the process. While all of this is going on, the site is continually ranking higher in the search results and traffic is on an upward trend. While the idea of always adding new content to your site might seem like a required, it actually isn’t.

Brian Dean is someone who has not only mastered the art of link building and ranking for some of the most competitive link building terms on the internet today, he’s also mastered the art of turning his blog into a lead generation machine — all while adding little-to-no new content to the site in the process.

One of the latest changes made to his site at Backlinko, is that it’s no longer featuring his latest blog content. Instead, it’s simply a lead generation form to grab an email address. The option is also there to scroll down and access more information and a free case study, but you can see how effective this new landing page and format can be for growing his mailing list.

Grow Your Mailing List to Grow Your Business

If you want to effectively grow your business on a daily basis, one of the best ways to accomplish this is through the use of lead generation and collecting new emails. Implement each of the methods above and start using these tools to your advantages. The biggest players in the industry have already proved these methods work, now it’s time for you to try and replicate their success.