• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • “Content Is King,” is the phrase we’ve heard everywhere for the last five to seven years. But if content is king, why is content marketing not working for so many businesses? Wouldn’t the methodical, practiced dissemination of “content” – one definition you might give to “content marketing” – be an obvious homerun with marketing departments of all shape and size?

    “Content Is King,” is the phrase we’ve heard everywhere for the last five to seven years. (Though the dictum is 18 years old, first coined by Bill Gates back in 1996.)

    But if content is king, why is content marketing not working for so many businesses? Wouldn’t the methodical, practiced dissemination of “content” – one definition you might give to “content marketing” – be an obvious homerun with marketing departments of all shape and size? You would think.

    A Whole Lot of Talk. Not A Lot of Action.

    While many marketers talk a big game in content marketing… many are failing miserably. I’d like to share with you with a brand new infographic from Axonn Media about the current and future state of content marketing in 2015. I found the reports in this infographic very disheartening, as I’ve briefly summarized below. (I’d be very interested to hear your reaction to the data in the comments section below.)

    Content Marketing Is Not Working for Most Marketers

    • 58% of marketers believe the effectiveness of their use of content marketing is neutral, not very effective, or not at all effective.
    • 51% of marketers have a content strategy and admit to not documenting it.
    • 60% of marketers rate their ROI as neutral or unsuccessful.
    • 51% of marketers say they are challenged by the task of producing engaging content.

    You get the idea. See the infographic below for more insights.

    The truly surprising part is that despite these failures, uncertainties, and “neutral” to “bad” results, content marketers essentially plan to do the exact same thing in 2015 that they did in 2014! (A commonly cited definition for insanity – “repeating behavior while expecting different results” – comes to mind.)

    Look at the bottom of the infographic to see the minuscule shifts in projected behavior:

    • 1% increase in blogging
    • 3% decrease in video
    • 4% decrease in infographics
    • …etc.

    Why Will Content Marketers Repeat Their Failures In 2015?

    That’s the question this infographic put in my head a few days ago. I think I have an answer…

    In short, too many people who shouldn’t be marketers have been forced into marketing positions. In the Social Age (as I call this era that tails the mainstreaming of Facebook, c. 2005-2006), the need for marketers and content producers by companies that 20 years ago would never have dreamed of making videos or publishing online, has dramatically increased.

    With the boom, untold numbers of professionals have been pulled into the Age of Inbound/Content/Native/Guerrilla/Call-It-What-You-Want Marketing. And, really, they don’t “get” it. They’re still stuck in the Outbound/Push/Direct era of marketing. Trying to tie an outbound message and approach to an inbound vehicle has never worked and never will.

    Marketers Aren’t the Only Ones to Blame

    It’s also frequently the case that a truly talented content marketer – one who understands the spirit of inbound techniques as well as the mediums of distribution – is held back by the higher powers in their own company. It’s not at all rare to see businesses hire energetic and creative marketers, but bar them from any risk-taking, which results in timid content that doesn’t win.

    How Can We Change Content Marketing In 2015?

    Be bold. Inbound principles have been successfully demonstrated for years now. But content marketers have to be willing to go all-in. In 2015, I’d like to see content marketers producing more passionate, inspired, and engaging content – not more content that’s just old outbound principals repackaged and mindlessly pumped out the other end of Hootsuite.

    Consumers don’t need more noise. They need valuable information that’s there for them when they want it. It’s a tough challenge. But when you get it, the payoff is tremendous.

    Most businesses will start with the product. A great invention is produced and the marketing department is given the task of getting that product known to the world. A lot of time, effort, and a huge budget goes into blogs, ads, infographics, commercials, and the rest of it, with the hope that an audience for that content will develop as people learn about the product and decide they want to buy it.

    Joe Pulizzi has a lot to say about content marketing. His recent post on Copyblogger is what he calls a “how-to-think” post, and he proposes a different approach to the subject. 5 Steps to Revising Your Content Marketing Strategy to Attract and Retain Future Customers reverses the traditional timeline for most businesses.

    Most businesses will start with the product. A great invention is produced and the marketing department is given the task of getting that product known to the world. A lot of time, effort, and a huge budget goes into blogs, ads, infographics, commercials, and the rest of it, with the hope that an audience for that content will develop as people learn about the product and decide they want to buy it.

    A Different Strategy

    Mr. Pulizzi suggests that instead of this model, it would be better to develop the audience. Then, as you get to know the people who are invested in listening to you, the products are developed to meet their needs. His suggested steps are:

    1. Choose the right content niche. Work on being the trusted expert in your industry.
    2. Focus all your efforts on building an opt-in email list. One call to action = sign up for the email list. One.
    3. Produce content consistently. Regularly scheduled email delivery without fail.
    4. Add “outcomes” to your editorial calendar. Solve problems for your readers, making their lives better.
    5. Prepare the “three-legged stool” model. Digital content doesn’t stand alone; have multiple channels like print & events.

    Then, as the man says,

    Your business goal that drives your particular content creation strategy should be to build an audience.

    With a loyal audience you can sell, well, practically anything you want.

    What do you think of this idea? I have to say that it seems a bit chicken-&-eggy to me because most products are the result of a perceived need in some type of audience. I do think that building your email marketing carefully is important because an opt-in email list is composed of people who already want to know what you have to say.

    Photo Credit: Product or Audience/shutterstock

    Whether it’s in person or by email, how you ask for donations can often make or break your fundraising campaign. This is especially true for big campaigns when you pull out all the stops with an amazing event, a beautiful direct mail campaign, and your best fundraising emails.

    Whether it’s in person or by email, how you ask for donations can often make or break your fundraising campaign.

    This is especially true for big campaigns when you pull out all the stops with an amazing event, a beautiful direct mail campaign, and your best fundraising emails.

    But let’s face it, writing effective fundraising emails is not easy. 

    But it can be done, if you follow a process to develop your own email messages. And if you’re patient.

    8 Steps to Writing The Best Fundraising Emails for Your Nonprofit

    Here are seven steps you can follow to write or even rewrite fundraising emails for your next campaign:

    STEP 1: Tell a good story

    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    A good story is the foundation of any effective fundraising appeal.

    Begin your fundraising appeal with a story that pulls at the reader’s heart strings. Talk about a real person who benefited from your work. Make that person the protagonist. Make them the hero, not your organization.

    For example, charity:water talks about a woman who fell down into a well with her baby. And she was stuck in the well for over 2 days!

    See? Doesn’t that grab your attention?

    STEP 2: Make it about them

    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    Fundraising works best when it’s one to one, between to people who share a common passion.

    and e-mail is always one-to-one (no one gathers their friends around a computer to read their e-mails). View your fundraising email as a unique opportunity to develop a relationship with someone who wants to receive your emails, and is possibly open to making a donation.

    Start by imagining a specific supporter that you’ve met a few times. Write your e-mail as if you’re writing a personal appeal this person.

    Tell them why their support is invaluable. Connect their support to the outcome. Use their first name, And write the e-mail in second person narrative (use the word “you” instead of “we” or “I”).

    STEP 3: Talk about the money

    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    There are far too many stories in the news about a nonprofit using donations for purposes other than what the donor intended. Gain the trust of potential donors by being transparent about your funding gap (the gap between funds that cover admin costs, and what is needed to pay for specific programs).

    NPR are masters at this with their on-air fundraisers, which I’m sure you’ve heard. Their asks usually go something like this: ”Sponsors and grants cover administrative costs, but we need your support to make sure programs like Science Friday continues to reach people like you”.

    This approach communicates transparency and respensibility – making donors feel confident about how their dollars will be spent.

    STEP 4: Keep it short

    No one has time read a long fundraising email. In fact, most people will just skim it first, then either delete it or keep reading.

    Here are four tips:

    1. Limit paragraphs to 2-3 sentences.
    2. Limit the the overall email to 2-3 paragraphs.
    3. Break up the text with headlines.
    4. Enter your email copy into this readability tester.

    STEP 5; Tell them what their money will do

    $50 will not save all the chimpanzees. But it will help. Tell them exactly how the money will be used, and what outcome will result from their $50.

    This approach helps donors connect the dots between their donation and the outcome they seek.

    For example, in their “Build a Breakfast” campaign, No Kid Hungy told potential donors: “For just $40, you can connect a classroom of 20 children with a healthy school breakfast for an entire month”.
    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    This ask is very specific, immediate, and doable! This gives the donor of better sense of realistic, personal impact.

    STEP 6: Ask three times

    How to Write Your Best Fundraising Emails

    Don’t forget about the call to action! In fact, make sure you ask three times in your fundraising appeal. But don’t just repeat the same phrase over and over.

    Ask different ways. For example, at the beginning of the e-mail you can say “you can make a difference”, linking to your donation page. In the second and third paragraph you can ask again: “Join others like yourself to make a difference”.

    Also, try asking once in between two paragraphs, in bold text.

    STEP 7: Tell them they can say no

    A good friend, who’s also fundraising consultant, told me her secret to success: People will often give bigger donations when they feel their personal free will is respected.

    According to a recent fundraising study, giving people the choice of NOT donating almost doubles the likelihood that they will donate!

    STEP 8: Don’t ask for money in the first email

    No one likes to be asked to make a donation if they haven’t heard from you in a while.

    If that’s the case with your nonprofit, your first e-mail should encourage your potential donor to learn more about the campaign.

    For example, charitywater often asks supporters to watch a video or read an article, before asking them to raise money.

    Leading off with a powerful story says that you’re not all about asking for money, which helps builds trust. It also helps you connect with your potential donor on an emotional level – where fundraising happens.

    What’s your tip?

    The applications for smartphones within physical retail environments already extend beyond in-store product or pricing comparisons by consumers. Moreover, the future use-cases that are likely to emerge in the coming year will expand across a variety of retail sectors.

    The applications for smartphones within physical retail environments already extend beyond in-store product or pricing comparisons by consumers. Moreover, the future use-cases that are likely to emerge in the coming year will expand across a variety of retail sectors.

    It has been a breakthrough year for indoor wireless location applications for retail, with ABI Research forecasting deployments to approach 25,000 by the end of 2014 -- that's up by more than 100 percent from 2013.

    "Vertically, the bulk of deployments are in clothing, big box, grocery, and shopping malls in 2014, driven by a variety of applications such as customer analytics, offers or coupons, product search, staff management, and navigation," said Patrick Connolly, senior analyst at ABI Research.

    Looking toward 2015, we can expect to see the quick serve restaurant (QSR) market growing with a significant demand for queue management technologies -- as illustrated by companies like Starbucks and Taco Bell, which launched queue-skipping smartphone applications in 2014.

    What is interesting is the technology mix today. ABI is seeing growth across all major technologies -- including BLE, Wi-Fi, and audio -- with 2015 being an important year for handset-based location, sensor fusion, magnetic field, and LED.

    Regionally, the focus has been very much on the U.S. market in 2014, but there are now many worldwide deployments. Therefore, expect market development activity to further expand and evolve geographically in 2015.

    This is a market where ABI says that they expect to see concurrent growth across the globe with more regional and vertical vendor winners, rather than one particular company dominating the whole space.

    ABI's latest market assessment found that shopkick/SK Telecom, Point Inside, and Aisle411 are now leading in deployments at a cross-section of brick and mortar stores.

    Over the past 12 months there has been a considerable change in deployments as companies have moved from a handful of deployments to getting into the hundreds and thousands of stores.

    In 2015, expect to see camera analytics companies -- such as ShopperTrak, Irisys, and Brickstream -- playing an increasing role as they expand their offering into BLE, Wi-Fi, and in-store analytics.

    Also, expect to see a lot of announcements around this growing category at the upcoming NRF 2015 event, as these companies launch new technologies and channel partnerships.

    Photo Credit: Store Tech Retail/shutterstock

    Protecting your WordPress website from hackers in 2015 will be a bit more complicated than adding a secure password to your login screen. We’ve seen it all. Hackers, like tiny mice that search for small nooks and crannies in your website’s framework, use every trick in the book to bypass your protection parameters. In the last few days, there was a HUGE WordPress website hack that exploited an outdated plugin that compromised more than 100,000 websites!

    Protecting Your WordPress Website from Hackers in 2015 will be a bit more complicated than adding a secure password to your login screen.  We’ve seen it all.  Hackers, like tiny mice that search for small nooks and crannies in your website’s framework, use every trick in the book to bypass your protection parameters.  In the last few days, there was a HUGE WordPress website hack that exploited an outdated plugin that compromised more than 100,000 websites!

    SO, HOW THE HACK DID THIS HAPPEN?

    It happened via a WordPress Plugin.  WordPress Plugins are bits of software that can be uploaded to extend and expand the functionality of your WordPress site.  Through this small chink in the RevSlider plugin, which was confirmed by Security firm, Sucuri, hackers were able infect sites to load highly obfuscated attack code on every webpage. Since many users didn’t update their Plugin to the NEWEST version, their sites were exploited.  Thousands of websites were hacked and promptly blacklisted.  And no, we don’t mean by David Spader.  What we do mean is by the Search Engines.  This included Google, Yahoo, Bing and a slew of others.  Visitors to your website will be greeted with a screen similar to this one:

     

    Protecting Your WordPress Website from Hackers in 2015

     

    When search engines BLACKLIST your website, it can be detrimental to your business.  Plus, while WordPress has over 70 million live websites it makes it a bit more vulnerable to attacks like these.  Being blacklisted results in:

    • The Loss of Search Engine Rankings
    • Decreased Website Traffic
    • Loss of Revenue

    MY SITE IS INFECTED, WHAT NOW?

     

    5Four Digital has implemented a regiment for protecting every website we manage.  Below, our list contains detailed tactics to protect your website from hacker bots, live hackers and a slew of other attacks.

    1. Check Your Website NOW – One of our favorite tools is the Sucuri SiteCheck Scanner.  It will check your website for known malware, blacklisting status, website errors, and out-of-date software.
    2. If you HAVE issues, fix them immediately! – There are several websites, forums and online security firms to help fix your malware infestation.  A few include:
      1. Sucuri – Leading WordPress Security Firm
      2. Clean Website Backup – If you have a clean backup of your site’s contents, re-upload all of the site’s files to REPLACE the malicious content.
      3. Wordfence – a free enterprise class security and performance plugin that makes your site up to 50 times faster and more secure.

     

    HOW DO I PREVENT A VICIOUS CYBER ATTACK ON MY BUSINESS?

    1. Keep WordPress UPDATED – keeping WordPress updated will protect you from hacks from older software
    2. Keep Your Plugins Up to Date – Like the recent RevSlider debacle, it’s a good idea to keep your Plugins up-to-date, as well.  ithemes_security_icon
    3. Delete Any and All Plugins Not in USE – If you have Plugins installed, but not using them, delete.  DELETE. DELETE.
    4. Use a Security Plugin – There are a few GREAT security Plugins out there that will protect your website for FREE (as well as enterprise)
      1. iThemes Security - The easiest, most effective way to secure WordPress in seconds.
        1. iThemes puts great tactics in place that utilize a user-friendly interface.  With it you will be able to:
          1. Change the URLs for WordPress dashboard areas including login, admin and more
          2. Completely turn off the ability to login for a given time period (away mode)
          3. Create Difficult Passwords and 30+ more…
    5. Wordfence, Ultimate Security Checker and more are also available.

    We believe creating a thriving online business begins with great website design, a simplified consumer experience and a secured website users are proud to visit.