Free Tools To Enhance Your ECommerce Website and Social Media Campaigns

January 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Design & Usability, Social Media

I hate paying for things that I can find and use for free, particularly when it comes to my online projects. 
 
In an effort to save myself time and money, I rely on a handful of free online tools to help me improve my websites, online marketing and social media campaigns. These websites include:
 
E commerce web design
Smashing Magazine (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/). Smashing Magazine is a hidden gem I advise everyone to bookmark. While the site is aimed mostly at web designers, its  templates and free tools (not to mention the inspiration) are aimed at anyone with a penchant for the web. Of particular interest to e commerce web site designers and owners is the icons section (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/tag/icons/), which features hundreds of downloadable e commerce buttons, graphics, icons all for the price of mentioning the artist’s name in your credits.
 
HubSpot Website Grader (http://websitegrader.com) HubSpot, like Smashing Magazine, offers a bevy of free tools you can use to grade your website and campaigns. To grade your website, enter your site’s URL on the first screen of the site. The resulting grade (out of 100 points) and report will indicate where and how you can improve your website. These improvements can include information on meta data, keywords, Google Page Rank, Traffic Rank, inbound links. A similar grader is available for blogs as well.
 
Google Webmaster Tools (http://www.google.com/webmasters/). As a self-professed fan of Google Products, I use Google Webmaster Tools in concert with my Google Analytics to make sure my websites aren’t doing anything hinky. A simple verification is all that’s needed to unlock information on inbound links, top search queries, keywords and crawl errors. Like the two sites listed above, Google Webmaster Tools is also free. 
 
E commerce social media campaigns
HubSpot’s Grader.com (http://www.hubspot.com/marketing-tools)  Part of the same family that offers the Website Grader, Grader.com also includes tools to help you rank and improve your Facebook Fan Page, Twitter rank and posts, Press Releases and calls to action. Similar to Website Grader, all of these tools are absolutely free.
 
Mashable (http://mashable.com/) Mashable isn’t a tool so much as a multitude of posts about all things social media. From how-to’s about construction a YouTube channel to the lasts report on Google’s new phone, Mashable is a free website (no subscription necessary) that will have you sounding like an online expert in no time. The site also includes how-to guides for understanding and using both Twitter and Facebook.
 
E commerce extras
Sometimes you just want to try a new tool for the sake of streamlining your productivity. These two websites offer daily doses of free tools to try:
 
UsefulTools.com (http://www.usefultools.com). On this site you can find apps to organize your email discussions or wishlists, design a custom website, get feedback on an idea or even download a directory of cool Twitter Apps.
 
Lifehacker (http://lifehacker.com/). As the name implies, Lifehacker helps with hacks for your life. From creating your own Gummy candies to finding out the best DVD ripping software, Lifehacker, will have you wondering how you ever survived with out it.
 

75 Words to Consider During Your Next Electronic Campaign

Social media and e-mail, for all of their popularity, can only offer so much reach to potential customers. You can have the perfect sale at the perfect time using the most pristine analytics possible but lose conversion because your message got lost along the way.

How can you be sure your message will get in front of as many eyes as possible?

  1. Consider using some of the most popular retweetable and repeatable words on Twitter and Facebook.
  2. Avoid words that will land your message in a customer’s spam filter

The 20 Most ReTweetable Words & Phrases (according to DanZarrella.com) are:

you twitter please
retweet post blog
social free media
help please retweet great
social media 10 follow
how to top blog post
check out new blog post  

 

According to spam filter experts, there are at least* 55 words or phrases you want to avoid in your e-mails include:

#1 Accept credit cards Affordable
All natural Apply online Bargain
Best price Billing address Buy direct
Call Cards Accepted Check
Click /Click Here / Click Below Click to remove Congratulations
Cost / No cost Do it today Extra income
For free Form Free and FREE
Free leads Free membership Free offer
Free preview Full refund Get it now
Giving away Guarantee Hidden
Marketing Marketing solutions Money
Name brand Never No Hidden Costs
No-obligation Now Offer
One time / one-time Opportunity Order / Order Now
Order today/ Order status Orders shipped by priority mail Performance
Please read Price Risk free
Sales Satisfaction guaranteed Save $
Save up to Special promotion Urgent
US dollars    

 

You may obviously need to use some of the words above in your next e-mail, however, be sure to use the word(s) sparingly and never put a word like Free or Now in all capital letters. Increased frequency or repeated use of these words can highly increase your chances of an email landing in the spam folder.

Many third party email systems like Constant Contact, iContact, and AWeber automatically pre-check your email for you against a spam database and then give it a “spam rating”. The rating is supposed to help you gauge how your email stacks up against other spam and thus provide an idea of whether it will be caught in spam filters or not. I highly recommend one of these types of services if you are not already utilizing a third party system.

*This list was adapted from http://www.marketingforsuccess.com/wordstoavoid.html. For a list of 250 words and phrases to avoid, take a look at Words and Phrases that Trigger Some Spam Filters at http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt8/spamfilter_phrases.htm

Have Social Media and Ecommerce Become a new SEO Tool?

November 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Social Media

With all of the information available about how to make your site appear at the top of a search engine results page, one could assume that as an e-commerce site, you’re pulling out all of the stops to make that happen.

What if you’re doing everything and you’re still not on top? Consider what you’re doing with your social media campaigns.

By now, you should know that the two biggest things you can do with your site to help optimize your site are:

  • Make sure you are using the correct keywords and phrases.
  • Make sure you are linking to your current content.

Linking to your current content is the perfect entry point for social media.

Consider the upcoming holiday season.

Let’s assume you’re on Twitter and Facebook. Are you posting at least a few times a week to invite people to your site to check out your products or services? Are you online asking questions of your readers or followers? Are you asking them to take action?

Consider hosting holiday specials on your site. Use your Facebook fans and Twitter followers to get the word out about the specials and any contests you may have coming up.

The more you entice potential customers to come to your site, the more inbound traffic you’ll receive. This, in turn, results in higher search engine rank.

I’ve mentioned 1800-Flowers.com before as a best practices site, but other sites that have grabbed the social media ball and have run with it include Lands’ End, Ulta (cosmetics), and Old Navy.

With a simple flick of the wrist and a few key strokes, these brands are reaching out to customers as one of the most pivotal times of the buying year.

Shouldn’t you be doing the same?

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