What is User Experience?

What do IBM, Amazon and McAfee have in common? They’re all brands that have improved profitability and minimized support costs by investing in their website UX.

UX stands for “user experience” and it’s a vital term to know if you want your own site to be successful.

For more on this concept and how it can be applied to your business website, take a look at the following infographic.

UX 101: What is User Experience?UX 101: What is User Experience? via homestead

Accepting Donations to Fund Your Website

Not all editorial or citizen journalism Web sites are supported by advertising. Some causes prefer to be free of the editorial constraints that paid advertising brings. If you’re depending on reader donations to fund your Web site, working smarter can net you more money.

Tools to Receive Website Donations

There are myriad tools available to make it easier for your readers and site visitors to contribute to your cause. Web payment companies, like Paypal and Wepay, offer donation buttons with the code already embeded, so you can easily place them on your site to offer a secure way for readers to donate.

Ways to increase your Website Donations

Just throwing together a Web site and hoping for the best is not likely to be effective in raising money for your cause or Web venture. Instead, follow these tips to increase your Web site donations:

1.Use social media. If you haven’t tied your Web site to Facebook or Twitter or one of the more than 400 other social media sites, you need to do so immediately. Even if you only have time to create a Facebook page, do it. Promoting your site to a small number of “friends” via Facebook can expand your reach exponentially when those friends share your message with their friends and their friends’ friends.

2.Set up a blog. Blogging is another good way to communicate with the Internet community and let people know why your cause is important and why they should contribute their hard-earned money. It also makes you seem more human and less like another impersonal Web site looking for a donation.

3.Create a mailing list from comments and newsletter subscribers. If you produce a weekly or monthly newsletter for your readers, you can use the email addresses they use to sign-up to create a mailing list for soliciting donations. You can also use the email addresses from those who comment on your Web site to solicit additional donations. However, make sure to use address verification software to minimize returned mail and wasted postage.

4.Be active. Like any other Web site, you’ll attract more attention and rank better with search engines if you add new content regularly, respond to comments and share relevant information with friends on your social media sites.

5. Pay attention to timing. According to Wepay, Web sites reap much more money in donations during the work week (particularly Tuesday through Thursday) as opposed to the weekends. They further maintain that solicitations sent out during lunch time, from noon to 1:00 p.m., are the most effective.

Funding your Web site with reader donations is a good way to avoid having your message diluted by inappropriate advertising. However, like any enterprise, raising funds for your site requires dedication, regular maintenance and efficient work habits in order to be effective.

Content Marketing: How it can help your Business

It’s no mystery that the most effective marketing strategies include information consumers need — as opposed to irrelevant noise being screamed at them in a radio, TV or Internet ad — and a call to action. Though traditional advertisements will always be with us, social media have ushered in the gilded era of “content marketing,” or what the Content Marketing Institute calls the “art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling.”

Content marketing often reaches consumers through their direction or instigation (clicking on a link), not through passive—or sometimes unwilling—observation. It delivers information in the form of a blog post, email, article in a print or online publication, or a video that informs buyers with relevant content.

Just as your small business credit card helps you manage the financial part of your business, content marketing helps you manage the essence of your business: your product or service, corporate message and reputation. Nielsen found that 58 percent of consumers trust editorial content, according to InboundMarketingAgents.com. They trust the information because it helps them in some way—whether it’s understanding a problem or discovering the hidden benefits of solving a problem.

To generate content that works as a fruitful marketing tool, it helps to be aware of what content marketing isn’t. Search engine optimization (SEO) expert Lee Odden points out on TopRank that it’s not simply creating volumes of content. It’s strategic, not “mechanical spray and pray.”

Generating content starts with identifying the themes of your business and how your products can solve problems. One of the easiest ways to narrow down your content creation needs, Right Source Marketing stated in “How to Grow Your Business with Content Marketing,” is to identify up to a dozen themes and focus on building a campaign around each of them.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it—producing content that converts prospects to customers can be a daunting undertaking. One reason is that context is often needed for the information in an article, video or blog post, content marketing expert Brian Clark stated on Marketing Land. Provide context by developing what’s known as “cornerstone content” around the topics people need to understand in order to do business with you, Clark advised.

Inspirational content marketing begins with meaningful storytelling, SEO expert Odden said. Then, that meaningful storytelling must be targeted to your current and prospective customers.

Publishing content and optimizing it to attract readers is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the end of the line, according to Right Source Marketing. Content distribution is a strategic marketing tactic, not random attempts to get your message out. Distributing the content entails comprehensive research about your audience and must be disbursed in outlets sought out by your targeted consumer group.

If you’re serious about content marketing, an editorial calendar to plan pieces in advance is essential. An easy way to start to build your editorial calendar is by being aware of holidays, seasons and upcoming events that pertain to your products or services.

There is literally enough information online and in university courses about content marketing to earn a degree in it. Fortunately, by knowing the basics — and keeping up to date with the ever-changing Google Panda and Penguin algorithms — you can begin to position your business to reap the benefits of this most credible form of marketing.