Archive for April 2015

How To Get More Email Signups With Facebook



Email subscribers have long been one of the most valuable categories of soft leads. With just a bit of push, they can certainly transition from leads to customers quickly, but the question of how to boost those email subscribers is a continual problem. Many have looked to social media outlets like Facebook to help generate those subscribers, but if you’re still having trouble bringing them in, is there really anything else you can do? Absolutely, and these tips can help.

Add an Email Sign-Up Tab to your Facebook Page: This may seem like a simple fix, but it’s one that your potential subscribers will appreciate. It’s easier than you think, too. There are a number of marketing platforms that will handle this for you, including choices like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor. If you don’t work with one of those, however, you can certainly custom build one into your page for less than you think.

Incentives Rule: Life is incentivized. If you get up and go to work, you get paid. If you work hard, you get a raise. Offering incentives, even at the simple level, really works. You could offer a free product, a discount, or even a promo item like a t-shirt or keychain. Think hard about what those potential customers might want, and then build out your promotion.

Hit Those Benefits Hard: If your post just says “Sign up for our email list today,” few people care. If your post says “Sign up for our email list today to get our monthly special offers and giveaways,” you’re going to get a far better response. People have to know why they should care before they actually do.

Think Contest: Everyone loves a good contest: The prize has to be sweet, and the sweeter the prize, the better your sign-up rate will be. Free iPads, concert tickets, sports tickets, or even a massive goodie basket will bring your inbox to a breaking point quickly.

The Power of Free: The wording of your propositions actually matters. The word “free” can have more power than you think. Of course, you never charge subscribers for your newsletter, but pushing that point may add to your list extensively.

Short, Sweet, and to the Point: If you’re trying to collect information from subscribers, this is not the place to do it. No one is going to want to complete a sign-up form that takes real time. Go for the name and email address, and then end it there.

Email subscribers actually matter, and you may want to test a few of these options to see which works best for you. The end will be a solid list you can turn to again and again for real sales growth.


Friday, 24 April 2015
Posted by Christina Evangeline

Web Scraping

Web Scraping
Web scraping also called web harvesting or web data extraction, is a computer software technique of extracting information from websites. Usually, such software programs simulate human exploration of the World Wide Web by either implementing low-level Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), or embedding a fully-fledged web browser, such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.
Web scraping is closely related to web indexing, which indexes information on the web using a bot and is a universal technique adopted by most search engines. In contrast, web scraping focuses more on the transformation of unstructured data on the web, typically in HTML format, into structured data that can be stored and analyzed in a central local database or spreadsheet. Web scraping is also related to web automation, which simulates human browsing using computer software. Uses of web scraping include online price comparison, weather data monitoring, website change detection, research, web mashup and web data integration.


Techniques:
Web scraping is the process of automatically collecting information from the World Wide Web. It is a field with active developments sharing a common goal with the semantic web vision, an ambitious initiative that still requires breakthroughs in text processing, semantic understanding, artificial intelligence and human-computer interactions. Web scraping, instead, favors practical solutions based on existing technologies that are often entirely ad hoc. Therefore, there are different levels of automation that existing web-scraping technologies can provide:

  • Human copy-and-paste: Sometimes even the best web-scraping technology cannot replace a human’s manual examination and copy-and-paste, and sometimes this may be the only workable solution when the websites for scraping explicitly set up barriers to prevent machine automation.
  • Text grepping and regular expression matching: A simple yet powerful approach to extract information from web pages can be based on the UNIX grep command or regular expression matching facilities of programming languages (for instance Perl or Python). HTTP programming: Static and dynamic web pages can be retrieved by posting HTTP requests to the remote web server using socket programming.
  •  Data mining algorithms. Many websites have large collections of pages generated dynamically from an underlying structured source like a database. Data of the same category are typically encoded into similar pages by a common script or template. In data mining, a program that detects such templates in a particular information source, extracts its content and translates it into a relational form is called a wrapper. Wrapper generation algorithms assume that input pages of a wrapper induction system conform to a common template and that they can be easily identified in terms of a URL common scheme.
  • DOM parsing: By embedding a full-fledged web browser, such as the Internet Explorer or the Mozilla browser control, programs can retrieve the dynamic contents generated by client side scripts. These browser controls also parse web pages into a DOM tree, based on which programs can retrieve parts of the pages.
  • HTML parsers: Some semi-structured data query languages, such as XQuery and the HTQL, can be used to parse HTML pages and to retrieve and transform page content.
  • Web-scraping software: There are many software tools available that can be used to customize web-scraping solutions. This software may attempt to automatically recognize the data structure of a page or provide a recording interface that removes the necessity to manually write web-scraping code, or some scripting functions that can be used to extract and transform content, and database interfaces that can store the scraped data in local databases.
  • Vertical aggregation platforms: There are several companies that have developed vertical specific harvesting platforms. These platforms create and monitor a multitude of “bots” for specific verticals with no man-in-the-loop, and no work related to a specific target site. The preparation involves establishing the knowledge base for the entire vertical and then the platform creates the bots automatically. The platform's robustness is measured by the quality of the information it retrieves (usually number of fields) and its scalability (how quick it can scale up to hundreds or thousands of sites). This scalability is mostly used to target the Long Tail of sites that common aggregators find complicated or too labor intensive to harvest content from.
  • Semantic annotation recognizing: The pages being scraped may embrace metadata or semantic markups and annotations, which can be used to locate specific data snippets. If the annotations are embedded in the pages, as Microformat does, this technique can be viewed as a special case of DOM parsing. In another case, the annotations, organized into a semantic layer, are stored and managed separately from the web pages, so the scrapers can retrieve data schema and instructions from this layer before scraping the pages.
Thursday, 23 April 2015
Posted by Christina Evangeline

How To Migrate Your WordPress Site To A New Domain

HOW TO MIGRATE YOUR WORDPRESS SITE TO A NEW DOMAIN
It’s easier today than ever before to build, maintain, and manage a website. Thanks to tools like WordPress, you no longer need to possess an understanding of programming language in order to create unique, well-developed websites for anything from a personal portfolio to a corporate website.
Over the past few years, WordPress has grown in popularity to become the platform of choice for millions of websites across the world. Part of the reason for this is WordPress’ ability to seamlessly integrate third-party software and coding, which adds much of the robust functionality that WordPress websites have come to be known for.
One area where WordPress truly shines is in the domain transfer process. In the past, transferring a website from one domain name to another could be a gruesome process which most website administrators would avoid whenever possible. While transferring a website from one domain isn’t the easiest thing you can do on WordPress, it is easy enough for most people to learn and do themselves, and without question far easier than it was a few years ago.
The following is a step by step process to follow when transferring your website from one domain to the other, and some important things to remember when doing so.
Wordpress Site Migration
First things first would be to install WordPress to your Bluehost account. You can install a blank version of WordPress to your Temporary URL.
Setup Managewp
Next you will want to sign up at ManageWP.com for a new account. You can use ManageWP for free by going to their home page, entering your email address, and clicking Try It For Free. Once you do this, you will automatically be taken to a window where you can add your existing website to your ManageWP dashboard.


Enter your site URL, username, and password. By doing this, ManageWP will automatically install the ManageWP plugin to your site and link the site to your ManageWP Dashboard. Then you will need to add your new website with your temporary URL to your ManageWP dashboard as well. To do this, click Add Website on the sidebar. Once you both websites are added to your dashboard on ManageWP, you can start the migration process.
Migrate Your Site
1. Click Clone/Migration in the Quick Access tool box.

2. Choose which website you wish to migrate. Your site should be listed under Existing Website. Click the website, then Next.

3. Once Manage WP has created a snapshot of your site, you will choose the destination. Select the site that you are migrating to, under Existing Website and click Next.


4. This should bring up a new window, reiterating which website you are cloning to. If this is correct, click the Clone button.

5. Once the cloning process has finished, you should be shown a message that the clone was successful. You can click Done.
Changing The url
Once you are done with the migration, you will need to change your name servers to point the DNS here. The name servers are ns1.BlueHost.com and ns2.BlueHost.com
Once the DNS is pointed here, you can change the WordPress URLs to reflect your domain name instead of the Temporary URL. Both the WordPress Address and the Site Address need to be the same and changed to your domain name.
1. Login to your WordPress dashboard.
2. From Settings choose General

Then update the Home and Site URLs.

After updating the Home and Site URLs you will find that internal links to pages and references to images are not updated. Instead, these links and references will point to your old domain name. Velvet Blues will fix that problem by helping you change old urls and links in your website.

Then you just need to save your new URL settings by saving your permalinks. To do this, you will go to your Settings and click Permalinks. You shouldn’t have to make any changes, simply click theSave Changes button. This will make sure that all of the links on your site are now using your domain instead of the Temporary URL.




Once ManageWP has created a snapshot of your site, you will choose the destination. Select the site that you are migrating to, under Existing Website. Click Next.
Posted by Christina Evangeline

The Ultimate Guide to Effective Website Planning

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE WEBSITE PLANNING


Websites are complex, dynamic, living creations. Every change, every addition of content or inclusion of functionality requires a solid base from which to work. The result of failing to recognize this need can be lost hours, frustrated customers, and pounding headaches. Organizing your efforts and planning your work ahead of time will not only benefit your design, but also improve your understanding of your site’s role and inner-workings in the process. In this post, we’re presenting the ultimate guide to effective website planning.
The importance of Planning
Let’s start with an analogy, courtesy of Ben Seigel’s extensive work on the subject. In this analogy, you’re building a deck. In this case, since you’re hosting your site, and therefore likely doing the work designing and building it, we’ll assume that the deck is for you, on the side of your own home. You initially assume it’s a pretty simple process, and head to the lumberyard to get materials. Once you arrive, you’re greeted by a friendly clerk who asks if you’d like treated or untreated wood, in pine, oak, or cedar.
Not knowing any better, you unintentionally select wood that does not perform well in your climate. When you start building, you create your frame, lay down some boards, and feel pretty good about how things are going, until you realize that you’ve covered up the exterior door; you forgot the stairs. So you fix the problem by creating some stairs, but because they are of a particular length and require extra support, they collapse when you test them out. Then the rain hits. Your wood is soaked and splitting, your leg is badly bruised, and your confidence isn’t doing so hot either. And all this consternation arises over something as simple as a deck.
Websites are subject to this same kind of scenario, but decks are considerably less complicated. Let’s take a look at how the planning process unfolds.
Aligning Resources
In order to get started the right way, we need to begin by understanding how our site will be configured. What is the required functionality? What will the primary content be? How many people will be working on it? This is referred to as needs analysis, the stage in which you determine what your deck will look like, how big, and what it has to do. The description of this step may be short, simply because much of the process involves asking questions specific to your situation, but the importance of this initial planning cannot be overstated.
It’s important, then, before starting any other work, to align your efforts with your marketing team. Since your website exists as an extension of their efforts, copy, images, and aesthetic should all facilitate their efforts in order to create a coherent, multi-channel brand presence. Bring your marketing team on-board for discussions and plan accordingly to accommodate their needs.
Next, evaluate your personnel requirements based on the initial needs assessment and assemble your team. Begin by determining who’s responsible for what. Responsibilities may include, but are not limited to:
Web designer
HTML coder
Web developer
Project manager
Writers/Editors
Stakeholders
This process is akin to selecting construction workers for a building project. Dividing the labor not only optimizes everyone’s workload, it takes advantage of everyone’s specialty in order to make the final product stronger.
In order for your workers to get building, you’ll need raw materials. Since the bulk of your content, whether video, text, or other format, will require appropriate writing, begin here. Your writers should understand the difference between writing for the web and writing for other publications. Internet readers are scanners, so bulleted information is extremely useful. Information and presentation should focus on the audience and not be self-indulgent. Finally, length should be appropriate for the topic and the attention span of quickly moving readers in order to hold their attention. It’s not necessary at this step to begin creating content, but having this knowledge in hand when you start will make a big difference.
Next, acquire high quality photography for backgrounds, post headers, structural elements, and informational slideshows. The power of photos is well demonstrated; research shows that the medium elicits more likes and shares than any other medium, which will help generate visitors. The quality of these images is important, especially since large resolution photographs are a growing trend in web design due to their attractiveness and positive reception. If you have the budget, consider enlisting a professional photographer. If you have no budget, at least do some research about proper lighting, technique, and camera settings in order to give it your best shot.
Building Structure
Once you have these two items in place, it’s time to begin framing your deck. A strong site map, drawn as a flowchart, will help establish the linking structure and give an idea of how information and traffic will flow. Since you wish to keep users around, viewing content, appreciating your hard work, and, if applicable, leading to sales conversion, this map is an important first step.
Define how your content will be presented. You’ll have slideshows, text, videos, and presentations, but how will they be presented? Will a slideshow be laid out like a gird or as a rotating carousel? Text will obviously appear as text often does, but what information will be available about authors, titles, and subjects? Will you present related stories or a subscription call-to-action at the bottom? Each of these questions will help determine layout and clarify presentation moving forward.
Start building the pieces of the final assembly before putting them in place. Before they receive the receive coding, primary pieces can be drawn-up based on content. This may include, but is not limited to:
Articles
Banner advertising
Documents
Physical products
Email newsletters
Image galleries
Staff directories
Incoming RSS feeds
Blogs
Forums
The key here is to focus on the content not the design. Content involves titles, text, video, message, author, attribution, and subject. Design, on the other hand, comes next.
Complimenting Content With Design
Once you’ve got your pieces constructed, it’s time to determine how they will be painted. The design process involves taking the text, video, photography, and functionality you’ve chosen and putting it together in a layout that provides an attractive, usable, and harmonious experience.
Page layouts of all kinds will begin with wireframing. This process involves creating grey-scale drawings of how elements will be positioned on a page. In this phase, ignore graphic elements altogether and instead focus on arrangement, flow of information, and usability. Each type of unique page will need its own wireframe, including contact pages, blog posts, product pages, and more.
Once these are established, they’ll be used as a guide for initial Photoshop mock-ups. These are, effectively, a pixel-by-pixel accurate depiction of how your final product will appear. Use your wireframes as a guide, place your color palette and other graphic elements (logos, fonts, etc.) in the margins as a guide, and begin creating elements for each piece of the wireframe. Notes should be made for all graphic tricks achieved through CSS, slices should be made around elements, and all assets should be labeled in a coherent manager (“large header” instead of “designpiece13”).
The next part is likely the most arduous and, due to its scope, will only be mentioned in passing here. Once your elements are sliced and ready for assembly, you’ll need to code your site. This can take many forms, including using pre-built templates or creating a site from the ground up. If you plan on beginning with a template, you’ll want to factor this in, as your wireframes will likely be dictated by the template in use.
Once your site is assembled, you’ll want a reference moving forward to keep design elements consistent. These documents are called style guides. Style guides contain fonts, font sizes, colors, color uses, graphics, acceptable graphical variants, and any other restrictions on the appearance and utilization of aesthetic elements. Developing this will not only unify your branding efforts, but help form your identity through careful examination.
Finally, load everything into the content management system (CMS) of your choice. These platforms are installed on your web hosting and facilitate the creation and coding of content within your website’s infrastructure. Frequently they feature the ability to create authorship accounts and control administrative aspects of the operations in order to effectively and consistently deliver your work to the front pages.
Pre-Launch, Post-Launch, and Beyond
Now that everything is put together, you’ll want to beta test before you release the site to the public. Launch on a test server and look to make sure that all elements display and scale correctly, built in interactivity works smoothly, and all links point somewhere valid. Test rigorously and search out any cracks that need sealed.
Once the beta test is complete, it’s time to go live. With a successful plan in place for growing content and an organization-wide understanding of responsibilities and aesthetic, maintenance and documentation become the next tasks. Develop a plan to regularly test and update code and create references describing website functionality and what blocks of code control what for easier access and fine-tuning in the future. The rest of the work from here is a simple matter of applying the organizational foundation you’ve established, and keeping the ship on even keel until a new website is in the works.


Planning a website is no small task, but understanding the process can help lend clarity to a complicated picture. Begin by evaluating your needs and assembling a team to address them. Next, create necessary content and collect photographs to enhance presentation. Designing the site is a matter of planning layouts based on usability and then building re-usable resources around those mock-ups. Putting it all together in a style guide and CMS can help unify aesthetic efforts and improve workflow respectively. Finally, beta test the site and, after going live, create documentation and a maintenance plan in order to ensure smooth sailing from there on out. In time, you’ll find that each step in the process dictates the next, and that your time spent planning will save more time than it cost in the long run.
Posted by Christina Evangeline

The Value of Email Marketing

THE VALUE OF EMAIL MARKETING

Social media is the buzz of marketing efforts these days. Facebook and Twitter are not only effective channels of engagement, but they’re largely unexplored potential fills hopeful marketing hearts with dreams of viral success. What these starry-eyed professionals overlook, however, is that one of the most effective mediums in online marketing has been at their fingertips since before Mark Zuckerberg attended Harvard. In fact, email marketing presents a unique opportunity to engage and impress customers in ways that social media simply can’t mimic.
Full Attention
Social media delivers engagement in unprecedented ways, fostering conversation and providing analytics to gauge marketing success. But the potential of social media marketing is inherently limited by its context. Posts you create appear immediately juxtaposed with status updates, videos, and other marketing copy. For all the data social media provides, this added distraction can effectively diminish the impact your materials have.
Email does not suffer from this limitation. While not necessarily inspiring sharing, emails represent a direct message from your company to your customer. Messages are shown on their own in full-page format on Gmail, and even mail clients present the messages as separate entities. What this means for your business is full, undivided attention on your content. This necessitates compelling headlines and copy to grab reader attention, but the potential for real brand communication is no less present.
Exclusivity
The marketing context of email is a unique one. Unlike videos or advertisements posted for the world to see, emails are perceived as less public. The advantage of this is the opportunity to create an air of exclusivity.
Because you have an “exclusive” connection to your customers by possessing their email address, your efforts should reward their subscription in kind. Incentives to motivate signups may include early access to products, coupon codes, or “email club” deals. In each way, the marketing channel is being used to its potential, building upon the human desire to possess what others do not.
Presence
The sea change of social media has introduced an era in which strong brand presence on one channel or another is not enough. Marketers have learned that a distributed presence everywhere their target audience resides is the key to making an impression and capturing visitors.
With this mentality, any potential means of communication with customers requires some form of presence in order to maximize effectiveness, email included. Coupled with the attention span afforded to email messages, the medium presents an excellent opportunity to extend the reach of a savvy strategy.
Statistically Proven Effectiveness
While all of this is good in theory, the constant flow of “likes” and comments can lead business owners and marketers to believe that email still lags behind social media in terms of engagement. To compound the confusion surrounding the issue, email marketing is notoriously hard to track, since click-through activity is not the only measure of email effectiveness.
Fortunately, the experts at Smart Insights have conducted compelling research that should inspire confidence in those on the fence about email. According to the study, businesses that distributed email marketing experienced 20% higher average daily revenue the day it was sent than on days without. The study also drilled down traffic on a monthly basis and found that all other sales channels benefited from increased activity when email was distributed.


With compelling data and a bevy of proprietary benefits to email marketing, any business would do well to incorporate the medium in their strategy. Capturing reader attention with the added benefit of exclusivity is a great way to engage customers and build a solid reputation. While many turn to social media almost exclusively for their efforts, your business can benefit from harnessing the power of the oft-overlooked opportunity of email.
Posted by Christina Evangeline

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