87% of people turn to SEARCH first to get things done.

New Consumer Behavior Data: 87% of people turn to SEARCH first to get things done. Mobile is key.
brand-value-quality-loyalty-awareness-strength-perception-value-trust-identity-and-marketing
 
Result: As marketers we have to connect the information we provide across screens, channels, and formats. And search, particularly on mobile, is where to start. By anticipating people’s needs, you can ensure you’re meeting people in their micro-moments with relevant and useful information. Contact Tridence to review your online Branding Needs and review our BOL special before time is up.

 

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Understanding the difference between Sales and Marketing

difference-between-img

It’s easy to confuse marketing and sales together. Both, after all, follow a single overarching goal: to increase your brand or business. Especially in small businesses, one person may be responsible for both sides of achieving that goal.

However, their similarities do not make the two concepts identical. In fact, they are different in a variety of ways. Understanding the difference between sales and marketing can help businesses improve their operations, and work with experts in each area to maximize their success.

The Basic Concept of Marketing

Marketing, at its core, is deceptively simple: it aims to raise awareness of your brand or business to a potential target audience. Done strategically, that awareness can help you grow your business, through a streamlined process. That process is best explained with a simple digital marketing example.

Imagine your site. Building that website, in other words, is a marketing responsibility.

In addition, marketing efforts also have to include driving traffic to that website effectively. Through search engine optimization, social media, and other digital channels, you can build a digital marketing strategy that accomplish that fact.

What happens next, however, is the most common source of confusion for many small businesses. This is where marketing and sales intersect.

How Marketing Ties into Sales

When visitors go to your website, some of them will be ready to immediately make a purchase. In that case, no sales efforts will be necessary. But in most cases, they are interested enough in your brand to learn more, but not quite interested enough to immediately convert into a customer.

An effective website captures these visitors for more targeted sales efforts. Through sign up forms, newsletter subscriptions, and other tactics, it gathers the contact information of interested members of your target audience, turning them into leads. Once they enter your database, more specific sales efforts are possible.

Marketing, in other words, supports your sales efforts. It adds leads to your database, which can be nurtured or ready for the sales call. One leads to another, but both are far from identical.

Understanding the Difference Between Sales and Marketing

The above paragraph lays bare the core difference between marketing and sales. The former is responsible for everything that leads up to the point when a member of your target audience becomes a lead. Once they take that action, sales takes over.

To accomplish its goal of lead generation, effective marketing focuses on educating its audience and establishing your brand as a thought leader and credible source in its industry. Sales, on the other hand, are focused on a more direct selling pitch of the benefits of your product or service for your target audience.

Both of course, have to be integrated to be successful. If your marketing tactics promise one thing and your sales team pitches another, your leads will experience cognitive dissonance and become less likely to follow through with a purchase. Only an integrated and consistent message can encourage your leads to eventually follow through and become customers.

Finding the Expert Help You Need

In its simplest form, marketing aims to generate leads, while sales aims to convert these leads into customers. Understanding what your business needs to accomplish increases your chances of finding external help to achieve your goals.

That, in turn, requires an analysis of your current sales efforts. If you are looking for more potential sales prospects to increase your business, we’d love to have a word. Contact us today to learn how our marketing expertise can support (but not replace) your sales success.

Author: Kerin Donahue

 

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3 Ways to Level Up Your Marketing With Pokemon Go. SM Marketing

Catch all the Pokemon masters you can with these three marketing strategies.

Source: 3 Ways to Level Up Your Marketing With Pokemon Go

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15 Hidden Snapchat Hacks & Features You’ll Wish You Knew About Sooner.

hidden-snapchat-features.jpg

Snapchat, the one-to-one messaging app with more than 150 million daily active users, has earned a reputation for fast growth and innovation.

But despite its success, it isn’t the most user-friendly app I’ve ever played around with. Many of its best features are so buried within the app that a lot of people don’t even know they exist. In March 2016, Snapchat added even more features in their release of a new version, and some of these features have totally reshaped how people use the app in the first place.

For example, did you know that you can use Snapchat to make a live video call? Or that you can add emojis to your Snapchat videos — and make it so they move and scale with specific objects? What about the trick where you can save data by turning the app on to “travel mode”?

There are a whole lot of cool things you can do with Snapchat that you may not have known about. But before we jump into them, it’s important that you know the basics.

Already have the basics down? Read on for some more advanced tips and features.

Note: Before getting started, make sure you’re operating on the latest version of Snapchat. At the time of posting, the latest version is 9.33.0.0.

15 Hidden Snapchat Hacks & Features

1) Use Snapchat for voice and video calls.

One of the biggest changes Snapchat made during its most recent update in March 2016 was the addition of a voice and video chat feature. There are two ways you can use voice and video chats: By sending 10-second recordings (of your voice or a video of you), or by “calling” them to start a live voice or video chat lasting any amount of time.

The voice and video call functionality is located within Snapchat’s chat feature, so you’ll need to open up a chat conversation with someone to begin. If you’ve updated your Snapchat app, you’ll see the phone icon and a video icon below the chat box.

snapchat-live-voice-video-call-1.png

To leave a 10-second voice or video message, hold down on the voice or video call icon and it will begin recording immediately. When you release the button by picking your finger up from the screen, the recording will stop and send immediately with no do-overs. In other words, make sure you’re ready to record and send the voice or video message before you begin.

To start a live voice or video call, just tap the voice or video call icon and it’ll begin ringing the other person immediately. If they don’t answer within a few seconds, you’ll see a pop-up notification asking you if you’d like to send a voice or video message instead. These voice and video messages are identical to the 10-second voice and video messages described above.

Here’s a GIF showing what it looks like to live video call another user:

snapchat-video-call-example.gif

Note: Voice and video chat will only work if both you and the person you’re trying to call have updated their app to the most recent version.

Also, remember that there’s no verification once you tap or hold down on one of the icons — it’ll start ringing or recording right away. (I learned this the hard way when I tapped the video icon accidentally.) Otherwise, it’s a very intuitive and easy-to-use functionality.

2) Turn on two filters at once.

Can’t choose between giving your photo a blue hue and letting your friends know you’re going 0 mph? Thankfully, you don’t have to make that difficult decision. You can use both filters at the same time with a very simple trick.

To add a second filter to a photo, all you have to do is hold the screen with one finger and swipe left or right with another to find your second filter. (To add that first filter, just swipe your finger left or right over your photo to rotate among them until you settle on one.)

3) Add, resize, and rotate emojis and stickers to your photos.

If you’re looking to dress up your Snapchats outside of the text box, you can add an emoji (or five) and place them anywhere you want on your photo or video.

In addition to the emojis you’re probably familiar with, Snapchat added 200 new stickers in May 2016 that are similar to the stickers that are so popular in other messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. These new stickers are super cute — everything from cacti to snarky kittens to walruses celebrating Hump Day.

snapchat-stickers-1.png snapchat-stickers-2.png

To access the emojis and stickers, start by taking your photo in Snapchat. Then, tap on the folded paper icon on the top of your screen next to the “T” text icon. Scroll through the available stickers and emojis until you find the one you want. Tap on it to add it to your photo, and then use your finger to move it around.

You can use two fingers to rotate it or resize it by pinching and zooming. Add as many emojis and stickers as you’d like.

snapchat-add-emojis.gif

To delete a sticker or emoji, simply drag it to the trash icon, which appears in place of the folded paper icon once you hold your finger down on the emoji in question.

Another creative way to use emojis on Snapchat? Create your own filters using some of the more transparent emojis by enlarging them until they cover the whole screen.

snapchat-emoji-filter.gif

4) “Pin” emojis to objects in your videos.

In addition to adding stationary emojis and stickers to your Snapchat videos, you can also “pin” — or attach — emojis and stickers to different objects in your video. This allows the emoji to automatically move, rotate, and scale with whatever object you pinned it to.

To “pin” an emoji or sticker to an object in a video, start by recording your video in Snapchat first. Then, tap on the folded paper icon on the top of your screen, located to the left of the “T” icon.

Scroll through the available emojis and stickers until you find the one you want. Tap on it to add it to your photo, and then use your finger to move it, and hold it in one place above an object to “pin” it to that object.

snapchat-moving-emoji-video.gif

5) Make your videos go in fast-forward, slow motion, or rewind.

Snapchat recently added features for videos allowing users to make them go in fast forward, slow motion, or rewind. These features work just like a filter, so to access them, record the video first and then swipe sideways to find them.

Here’s how they work:

  • Snail icon = slow motion
  • Rabbit = fast-forward
  • Backward-facing arrows = rewind

snapchat-video-filters.png

Image Credit: TechCrunch

6) Draw in black or white.

You may have noticed that the color palette in Snapchat’s drawing tool doesn’t offer black and white — but that doesn’t mean that you can’t access both of those colors. All it takes is a few quick finger maneuvers.

To access the available colors, you’re used to holding your finger down on the color palette and dragging it up or down. But to access black and white, you’ll need to drag it toward the upper left corner of your screen (white) or the bottom right corner of your screen (black).

snapchat-draw-black-white.png

7) Change the color, size, and orientation of your text.

Think you’re limited to white text? Turns out you can actually change the color of your text to whatever you want, including black (see previous tip).

To change the color of your text, start by taking your photo or video, then tap the “T” icon at the top of your screen. Tap the “T” icon again to make the text larger and remove that shadowed background, and then tap the text itself to open up the color palette. Drag your finger along the palette to change the text color.

To change the orientation and/or size of the text, use two fingers to rotate it or resize it by pinching and zooming. You can move the text around to wherever you want on the screen simply by holding your finger on the text and moving it around.

snapchat-change-text-color-1.png snapchat-change-text-orientation.png

8) Make your text fit neatly in one line.

If you’re anything like me and hate when your text awkwardly goes just over one line, rest assured: You can actually resize your text so it fits neatly into a single line (or however many you’d like).

To resize your text, tap the “T” icon at the top of your screen, then tap on the text to get into text editing mode. Next, use two fingers to pinch-and-zoom to resize it while it still spans the width of your screen.

snapchat-fit-text-into-one-line-1.gif

9) Exceed Snapchat’s text limit.

Even though Snapchat recently extended their text limit on Snapchat to 33 characters, that’s still not always enough. Luckily, there’s a hack that’s been going around for a little over a year now for how to exceed Snapchat’s character limit.

To add extra text, you just need to type your long message into your Notes app (a native app for iOS users), copy it, and paste it into the text field in Snapchat. Alternatively, you can copy a range of blank text in your Notes app and paste it into the text field in Snapchat, and then write in your text.

snapchat-notes-exceed-text-limit.png snapchat-exceed-text-limit.png

10) Turn on “travel mode” to save data.

When I first started using Snapchat on a regular basis, I noticed right away that it was draining my battery faster than any of my other social media apps. Thankfully, Snapchat actually has a built-in feature to help conserve your data, in the form of “travel mode.”

When you set your Snapchat app to travel mode, snaps and stories won’t download automatically. Instead, you can choose when you want to load a snap or a story. It can also help reduce video lagging while you’re recording videos using the app.

To turn your Snapchat app to travel mode, go to settings, which you can access by opening Snapchat, tapping the ghost icon in the top center of the screen, and then tapping the gear icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

snapchat-ghost-icon.jpg

snapchat-gear-icon-settings.jpg

Once you’re on the settings page, tap “Manage” under “Additional Services” and toggle “Travel Mode” on.

snapchat-travel-mode-1.png

11) Create your own geofilter.

In February 2016, Snapchat started letting anyone — whether you’re a business or an individual — create custom “on-demand geofilters.” On-demand geofilters are filters users can add when they take photos and videos from specific locations.

There are two different kinds of geofilters: a personal geofilter and a business geofilter.

  • A personal geofilter promotes a personal event or location like a birthday party, wedding, graduation party, and so on, and you can set them for up to 30 days. They can’t include marks, logos, branding, or businesses.
  • A business geofilter promotes a business or a brand, like for an upcoming sale, an ad for a certain location, or something along those lines. Business Geofilters need to meet Snapchat’s Business Guidelines.

snapchat-on-demand-geofilter-examples.png

Image Credit: Snapchat

To create them, you’ll need to upload an image with a transparent background (or useone of Snapchat’s premade templates), upload it to http://geofilters.snapchat.com, pick a date, time, and location for it, and submit it to Snapchat along with your payment. The Snapchat team promises to review submissions within one business day.

The announcement said this feature is available in the U.S., U.K., and Canada for now, with new locations coming soon. You can learn more about how to use them on Snapchat’s website here.

12) Add music to your videos.

Here’s a small tip that can make a big difference in your Snapchat videos. After all, the folks at Snapchat claim that sound is a big part of what makes Snapchat videos so appealing. In June 2016, they claimed that two-thirds of Snapchat’s 10 billion daily video views are watched with the sound on.

Adding music can add a unique touch to your Snapchat videos, and it’s simple to do. All you have to do is play the song you want through your favorite music player app (like Spotify or iTunes), and then record the video on Snapchat while the song is playing. The video recorder on Snapchat will pick up the music and it’ll automatically become part of your video.

13) Turn the sound off in your videos.

Like I said before, sound is a big part of what makes Snapchat videos unique. Although the default settings for video on both Facebook and Twitter have the volume turned off, Snapchat has done the opposite: its default setting has the volume on.

“The nature of Snapchat, in terms of user-experience, plays into the prominence of sound on the platform,” said Brian Nguyen, group communications strategy director at Droga5. “Users on Snapchat simply expect sound, whereas on Facebook, they don’t.”

But if you’d rather not have sound in your video, it’s helpful to know that there is a way of turning it off. This might be best if you’re recording a video that has unnecessary, loud, or jarring noises that don’t add to the video in a way that you want them to.

To turn sound off on your video, first record your video like you would normally for a Snapchat video. Then, tap the microphone icon on the bottom left-hand side of your screen once so that the sound waves are replaced with an X.

Before:

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After:

snapchat-sound-off.jpg

14) Save a Story as a video clip by downloading it.

Anyone might want to save a Snapchat Story to view later, but this is especially true if you’re working on Snapchat content for your business so you can show your team the Stories you’ve put together and view them later to see what styles worked well. You can save Stories by downloading them to your device. (From there, I’d recommend emailing it to yourself so you don’t accidentally lose it.)

To save an entire Story as a video clip, open up Snapchat and go to the “Stories” view, which you can do by swiping right from the default camera view. Your Story will appear at the top.

Tap the three dots on the far right-hand side of the screen to bring up the download button to the left. Then, tap the download button to save the entire story.

To save one Snap on your Story as a video clip, open up Snapchat and go to the “Stories” view, which you can do by swiping right from the default camera view. Your Story will appear at the top.

Then, tap on your Story and swipe up on the Snap you want and hit the download button at the top of the screen.

15) Delete single snaps from a Story.

If you’ve published a snap to your Story, you can still go back to it and delete it at any time — even if you’ve published other snaps after it.

To delete a snap form a Story, simply open up Snapchat and go to the “Stories” view, which you can do by swiping right from the default camera view. Your Story will appear at the top. Swipe up on the Snap you want to delete and hit the delete button.

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Image Credit: Snapchat

There you have it. We hope these tricks and features help you use Snapchat to connect with your friends, fans, and even customers in a way that’s low-cost, but highly personal and engaging.

Happy snapping!

 

Written by: Lindsay Kolowich

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Sharing is Caring: Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Update

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Tridence – Jacksonville, Florida

In a post to the Facebook blog on Wednesday, June 29, 2106, Facebook announced yet another update to their ever-changing News Feed algorithm.

As much as Facebook has grown in the past years it has struggled to find a comfortable balance between its business/advertising sector and users.

We’ve reported on the changes Facebook made to the organic reach of business pages in the past. This time around, Facebook is making the organic reach of business page’s even more dependant on the amount of shares it receives.

Lars Backstrom, Facebook’s Engineering Director, had this to say:

“We’ve heard from our community that people are still worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about. For people with many connections this is particularly important, as there are a lot of stories for them to see each day. So we are updating News Feed over the coming weeks so that the things posted by the friends you care about are higher up in your News Feed.”

Facebook has always stated that its goal is to help people keep in touch with their family and friends. Their priority has always been to keep you connected to the people, places, and things you want to be connected to. Still, people are worried about missing important updates from the friends they care about says Facebook.

If you weren’t aware before, the Facebook News Feed has two overarching goals:

1) To inform. People expect to see updates that are relevant to them whether it be about friends or family, or current events. This of course varies from person to person, but the News Feed is constantly trying to figure out what news is relevant to you.
2) To entertain. Facebook tries to sprinkle in updates that are entertaining to you. For some of your friends that might be news about a celebrity or a brand, or an exciting live video. But entertainment will always be behind updates from your personal network.


How will this affect your Facebook business page?


Over the coming weeks Facebook anticipates that this update may cause the reach and referral traffic for business pages to decline (once again). But this depends on your page’s audience composition. For example, if a lot of your referral traffic to your website comes from your audience sharing your content and their friends liking/commenting on it then you shouldn’t see much of a decline.

In other words, Facebook encourages Pages to post things that their audience are likely to share with their friends.

What is Facebook’s reasoning behind this change?

If people aren’t able to rely on Facebook to keep them updated with friends and family then they might switch to a platform that will. Snapchat is certainly biting at their heels.


How can I prepare my Facebook Page for this change?


First I’ll say that if you’ve successfully adapted to Facebook’s algorithm changes thus far you don’t have too much to worry about. If you’re seeing a decent amount of engagement — sharing being the most important — then you shouldn’t see much of a change.

Take the time to audit your Facebook Page’s past posts to see what kind of content has received the most engagement. Note the type of content, format, visuals, length, time of day, etc — and build on top of those successes.

If your posts haven’t been seeing much engagement lately definitely don’t expect to see any improvement going forward with this new update. There must be an even greater focus on driving traffic back to your own website and building your email list.

There must be an even greater focus on growing your own assets, like an email list. A few ways this can be accomplished is:

  • Social contests. Fun and engaging, social contests like, vote contests, photo contests, Instagram hashtag contests and others are a great way to collect leads through social media. Social promotions are still one of the most effective way of capitalizing on a large social media audience.
  • Lead generation. Employ tools like popups or landing pages on your website to capture visitor information through the use of lead magnets. Traffic that moves from your Facebook page to your website can be captured and added to profit-generating email lists.

Going forward, Facebook’s relationship with businesses is looking a little cloudy in my opinion. The social media giant is still trying to figure out how to keep their users connected while balancing it with advertising.

We’ve all been witness to the evolving and pivoting nature of social media and it’s an important reminder that relying on third party platforms can be risky. The way these platforms deal with businesses and advertising can change in an instant and leave you with a 3% organic reach.

Written By : Jordan Lore

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HOW TO SPEED UP YOUR PAGE LOAD TIME

So, you have been reading our blog and have armed yourself with the best skills in ensuring that your conversion rate is as high as you need it to be.

But wait a minute,

Your analytics show you different results after all. But why?

Have you thought about your page load time? Let’s discuss why Page load time is important and check my 9 actionable tips to optimized load time of your site.

 

What is Page Load Time and Why Does It Matter?

Page load time is the time taken for a page in your site to open. Technically speaking, this is the speed at which a webpage or media content is downloaded from website hosting servers and displayed on the requesting web browser.

For you to better understand what page load time is in terms of user experience and website performance, there are three core aspects that you need to know:

  • Your browser response to page load requests
  • The view within the duration for delivering requested material from the website hosts to the browser
  • The view of the end-users as the requested web page renders on the browser.

Here is why page load time matters

One: Page Speed effects Return On Investment (ROI)

A report by the Aberdeen Group has showed that having instantaneous website response rate leads to maximum conversion rates. Additionally, every 1 second delay in the page load time reduces customer satisfaction by 16%, page views by 11% and conversion rate by 7%.

 

Delay in load time effects ROI

Clearly, having a website that loads instantaneously is sort of difficult. So, does this mean that you are doomed?

No. There is an allowance.

At least 83% of people expect a page to load within three seconds or less. After this, the one second delay effects as mentioned above come into play.

If you don’t stick to the 3-second window, then you risk an abandonment rate of over 40%.

To put this in monetary perspective, let me show you this:

If an e-commerce is making $100,000 per day, just one second delay in the page load time could potentially result in $2.5 million loss in sales per year.

page load time result in sales loss

Let’s understand this with an example of a Case Study:

In 2012, TagMan ran a test to find out the exact correlation between page load time and conversion rate. It was found that these two elements had a very significant relationship that eventually affected sales in a business.

To better represent these effects, the researchers measured how average paid-load time a user experienced affected his chances of converting.

The result:

At two seconds, the conversion rate peaked, after which it dropped by 6.7% with each additional second.

Here is a graph displaying the results:

Page load time and conversion rate statistics

 

What this means for your business:

As much as there is the safe three-second limit, try your best to hit a maximum page load time of two seconds as the research by TagMan showed.

Two: Page Speed Directly Affects Your SEO, Brand Image and User Experience

In terms of brand image and user experience, research has showed that 46% of visitors who fail to get through your site due to slow loading times will definitely tell their friends about the same. Additionally, 44% of your site visitors will develop a negative image of the company if the site crashes or has loads slowly.

With regards to SEO and ranking, as of late 2010, Google announced that site speed was a new signal it introduced to its organic search-ranking algorithm.

Now, you know what page load time is, why it matters to your business let’s discuss 9 Ways to decrease your page load time.

1 Get The Right Server For Your Website

Currently, despite the existence of many web servers, people are still torn between IIS and Apache. Well, we understand that you definitely want the best for your website and this is okay.

The big question is:

Yes the web server has been rated as the best. But, is it good enough for you?

Before you settle on any web server, you need to ask yourself what exactly you are looking for based on your website’s needs.

Let’s look at how you do this.

How To Choose The Right Server

Before settling on a web server, there are certain factors that you need to consider. This choice is of course based on cost, capabilities, support and other factors.

Generally, failure to make these considerations will affect your site performance.

Let’s look at a few main factors.

One: Technology

When assessing the technological requirements for your server, there are certain areas that you need to look at.

  • Operating System

Do you remember the example we gave on Apache and IIS being the best in the market? Their use depends on your operating system.

If you need to host ASP.NET code, Microsoft IIS or MS SQL for example, you have no choice but to use Microsoft Windows Dedicated Server.

Conversely, if you want to run an open source stack such as Ruby On Rails or Apache/php/mysql, you should use a Linux server.

  • Performance

If you run a heavy website that has chat servers, virtualization or specialized applications for example, you need to use a multi-processor server. A good example is the dual Xeon server.

This means that if you use a single-processor server yet you run heavy material on your website, all because you want to cut on costs, you could end up losing on revenue.

  • Web Server and Database Server

If your website’s architecture is power hungry, for example Ruby, Windows or Java, then you need to find a server with plenty of RAM.

  • Bandwidth

Bandwidth is basically the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time.

This means that for you to have a website that does not hang and loads fast, you need to have a bandwidth wide enough to handle your data. For example, if you host multimedia such as flash videos and images.

Two: Budget

Although not directly proportional to page load time, budget indeed has an effect on your site speed.

For example, going for a low-budget server could be great on your pocket but bad for your site speed if the paid-for server cannot handle your site requirements.

Elements such as scalability costs and price of upgrade and parts and how much you are able to invest in these will determine the kind of server you can afford.

Here is a general table that gives you the idea on how to compare different servers and settle on the best for your business.

 

Improve page load time with different servers

2 Reduce HTTP Requests

It has been reported by Yahoo that 80% of a webpage’s load time is spent downloading different parts of the page. This could be images, flash and scripts among other elements.

The problem for this is that for each of these elements to load, a HTTP request is sent. Therefore, the more of these elements you have on a web page, the more HTTP requests will be sent and the longer it will take to open the page.

So, if this is the case, what do you do?

  • Combine The Files

Well, sometimes you cannot compromise on the elements that you need featured on your webpage. Instead, you get clever and do a merger.

Instead of having these elements as individual scripts, combine them into one single script. For example, instead of 5 scripts, you will have 1 script hence only one HTTP request.

  • Use CSS instead of images
  • Reduce scripts and also place them at the bottom of the page.

3 Turn On Browser Caching

Cache…This word. I remember when computers were new and everyone was struggling to understand the concept, one word stood out-cache. People had weird ways of pronouncing it and this alone made the concept seem hard.

Anyway, what is cache and how does it work?

When you visit a website and go about your business, the elements of the pages you visit are stored in your computer’s hard drive or temporary storage.

This is done so that the next time you visit the website, your browser can easily load the page without sending another HTTP request to the server for the same page.

Let’s see how Tenni Theurer explains it:

She says that the first time someone visits your website, their browser has to download the HTML document, files, javascript, images and stylesheets before they can use your page. According to Tenni, this could be as many as 30 components that need to be loaded within 2.4 seconds.

Look at the following graph on how this would work:

 

Page load time example

Now, if a website does not have cache, then the user will have to wait this long to have the website load next time.

But,

What happens when the website enables cache?

To have a clear view of this, Tenni ran a test:

This is what she saw:

Page load time example

She found out that once the page was loaded and the different components stored in the cache, only few components had to be loaded in subsequent visits.

As you have seen in the image above, out of 30 components, the user had to load only 3 and spend only 0.9 seconds waiting.

Clearly, this is how you can cut load time by 62.5%.

Please note: Cache helps reduce load time for subsequent site visitors and not first-time site visitors. Therefore, you should ensure that you also reduce site load time for first-time visitors as well to convince them to visit your site again.

As a matter of fact, Tenni explains that 40-60% of your daily site visitors come to an empty cache. You cannot afford to ignore this lot.

So, how do you optimize cache? Here’s how

How to Optimize HTTP Cache

Method One: Last Modified

You can choose to set the server to tell the browser what version of the file it is sending. In simple terms, if the browser receives a particular file, it will know that it has received a file from a particular date, let’s say 26thJanuary 2016.

This means that if the file has not been modified since the last time it was cached, then the browser will not send a HTTP request to re-download the file. Instead, the file will be retrieved from the browser’s memory.

 

Optimize HTTP Cache to optimize page load time

As you can see from the image above, sending the not modified response is a lot easier and lighter (just 1KB) than sending back a file which could be 100 KB.

Method Two: Expires

When you cache a file, you still check with the server to know if you need a new one or not.

In HTTP optimization in your website, we do exactly that. Get an expiration date for cached material

Basically, the browser doesn’t sends request to the server until we reach the date of expiry. After this, we get new material from the server, with a new expiry date and the cycle continues.

This is what happens in such a situation:

 

Optimize HTTP Cache to optimize page load time

See, easy and fast!

Method Three: Use ETags

Well, we have discussed the last modified method that requires your computer to check dates and correspond with the servers.

While this works, some factors sometimes affect the running and smooth operation of this tweak. For example, daylight savings times, a server clock that was erroneously set and so forth.

When this happens, then your ‘last modified’ tweak fails to work as planned.

Instead, etags come to your rescue. These are unique identifiers given to each file, irrespective of date and time. It is like fingerprints in human beings.

So, in this case, when your browser contacts the server, it gives info on the etag as opposed to the date and time. This way, the exact file status can be known.

Here is how this works.

Optimize HTTP Cache to optimize page load time

 

As explained in the image, your browser will request a specific file with a unique identifier. If it has not been modified, the server will communicate the same and the material loaded from the cache in your browser.

4 Optimize Images

One thing is for sure at this point. Heavy elements take longer to load, thereby increasing your page load time. To curb this, elements such as images need to be optimized.

Let me show you how images play a significant role in page load time:

For starters, images take about 2/3 of your average webpage. While this proportion has been constant over the years, the actual image size has been increasing.

In December 2010, images were 2/3 of a webpage and were about 432 kB as seen in the illustration below.

 

decrease page load time by optimizing images

 

5 years later, in January 2016, the proportion has remained the same, at 2/3 but the image size has increased to 1420kB, as seen below.

 

Page load time can be decreased by optimizing images

 

Clearly, looking at this trend, images are bound to get even heavier on websites. Well, I understand that your website needs to have as many high quality images as possible. After all, images boost conversion rates.

But, in spite of this, you need to understand that the UX based on your page load time will affect your conversion rate.

These heavy images are not doing well for website page load time therefore companies are now optimizing their images.

Magento has done this is two main parts, resulting to 50% reduction in page load time.

Part 1: Installing Cloudinary Extension

According to Magento, installing cloudinary extension takes a couple of minutes. This video will show you how to do it.

 

After this, Magento administrators upload images as usual then cloudinary takes over the image processing.

Part 2: How Cloudinary Works

To optimize images, cloudinary works in different ways.

One, the extension will automatically provide the most appropriate image version, depending on the site visitor’s browsing data. For example, for chrome users, cloudinary converts images to WebP format instead of JPEG, which is 60% smaller but does not reduce the quality of the image.

For internet explorer users, images will be converted from JPEG to JPEGXR which is 40% smaller in size.

In addition to this, images will be automatically cached and any unused metadata will be removed to further decrease the load time.

After all this, Magento was able to reduce image sizes by 80%. The example below shows you an image that was originally 38Kb and was reduced to 7.91 Kb. In addition to this, the page load time was reduced by 50%.

 

Page load time can be decreased by optimizing images

 

Now that you have proof of this, how do you optimize your images?

How To Optimize Images

  • Define Image Quality

Photo editors allow you to change the quality of images. Usually, these are low, medium and high.

Well, you could think that reducing the quality of your image is not good but this is not the case. Take for example, if you need to upload backgrounds or pictures that do not need high definition, why not just use the average image quality?

  • Choose The Right File Type

When you look at an image’s file extension, you will notice things such as .png and .jpeg. These extensions tell you the image file type.

What you need to know is that different image file types behave differently in terms of how they load or look.

Whether PNG, JPEG or GIF, you need to know the qualities of these images before you settle on the file type.

Briefly, let’s look at the 3 main image file formats.

  1. JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

This popular format, used by over 70% of websites worldwide, was designed with photographs in mind, hence the ability to display millions of colors at once.

The trick with JPEG images is how they are saved. They can be saved at 0% compression with a large file size. When compressing to reduce file size however, you reduce the image quality.

  1. GIF ( Graphics Interchange Format)

GIFs are popular due to their small size. They are ideal for small navigational icons, simple diagrams and graphics with large blocks of a single color among others.

This format has 3 main advantages. First, it can be saved with a maximum of 256 colors, can be interlaced and can also be animated.

  1. PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

There are different types of PNG formats some that are similar to GIFs.

The main advantage of this format is the alpha-channels. In other image file formats, a pixel is either opaque or transparent.

Gladly, PNG allows you to decide the opacity or transparency level of a pixel, within a range of 0-255 where 0 is fully transparent and 255 is fully opaque.

  • Use Reasonable Dimensions

Almost as important as the file size, you need to choose image dimensions that are reasonable. The wider the dimensions, the more space these images will take in your website and the easier they will give your visitors the illusion of a slow load time.

Now that you know, ensure that you use a photo editing tool that will allow you to manipulate your images in the best way possible. Basics such as crop, resize, compress and display adjustments should not miss.

5 Reduce Redirects

As we discussed earlier on, HTTP requests are sent when your browser needs to communicate with your server.

As we established, if these requests are many, then the page load time increases so you need to ensure that they are kept at the possible minimum.

In this same way, you need to avoid or reduce HTTP redirects. This is because redirects create additional HTTP requests, increasing page load time.

But wait,

What are redirects?

These are instructions that automatically take visitors of one file to another file or file location. This is done in many ways that we will not delve into. What you need to know however, is that each redirect hurts your page load time.

You are wondering why?

Imagine being extremely pressed, needing to visit a lavatory ASAP and everywhere you go you get that annoying sign ‘cleaning in progress’ and you have to find another set of toilets.

This is the same case with redirects.

To help you understand, please look at this image:

 

Page load time - Improved by reducing redirects

 

People who have implemented the mobile SEO solution are at risk of suffering from this. This lot has a lot of redirects happening in their websites.

As a matter of fact, redirects affect mobile users more than desktop users because mobile networks are less reliable.

Well, you can’t really do without redirects.

There are several types of these but we will look at just two general types of redirects.

  • Server-side Redirects

These include 301 and 302 redirects which are particularly common because they use HTTP to explain to your site visitors that a page or resource has moved. The major difference is that 301 is a permanent redirect and 302 is temporary.

The fact that they are server-side means that the servers use HTTP to direct the web browser, which will respond faster and cache the information.

This means that such redirects are best because they are fast and can be cached.

  • Client-side Redirects

These are the bad type of redirects. They are slow and cannot be cached.

Have you seen the redirects that use the http-equiv=”refresh” attribute or javascript? Avoid these. They are bad.

So, how do you reduce redirects?

This is a bit technical so I will give you a few tips you can tell your web developer and s/he will understand.

Google recommends a few key actions on how to reduce redirects, making your site faster to load (you can’t avoid all of them)

You can either include the <link rel=”alternate”> markup in your desktop pages to identify the mobile equivalent URL so Googlebot can discover your mobile pages or use a HTTP redirect to send users with mobile user agents directly to the mobile equivalent URL without any intermediate redirects.

You should also refrain from referencing URLs in your pages that are known to redirect to other URLs. You need to have a way of updating URL references whenever resources change location.

If you cannot avoid a redirect, then avoid intermediate redirects. For example, if the new file location is at C, ensure that traffic from all locations, say A or B, lead directly to C. If you use B as an intermediate to C, then you actually increase your page load time.

6 Use Plugins Wisely

Nowadays, there is a plugin for everything, especially with the WordPress framework.

Plugins give you the ability to handle just about any task you can think of. This could range from sending your posts to twitter, managing video galleries and so much more.

While this is good, allowing you to customize a page and your experience as much as you want, you could be slowing down your website.

Despite this, did you know that the size of these plugin files keeps adding up with each additional plugin? This means that the more you add, the heavier the file gets and the longer it takes to load a page.

So, what do you do?

Use your plug-ins wisely and download only what you need, not everything you heard is cool.

By this, I am saying that plugins have both good and bad sides. You just need to know what you want from them.

Let’s briefly look at three factors to consider before settling on a plugin. These will help you choose plugins wisely.

One, the purpose. Basically, you look at what the plugin will cost you in terms of performance. Will it improve or reduce your site performance?

Take for example, a contact form shortcode plugin will use less resources on your site compared to a plugin that will help with SEO.

Secondly, you need to consider the codebase. Simply put, poorly coded plugins will drive your website to the mud.

Lastly, the environment you offer in your website is important. Ensure that your website has the capability and the environment to handle your plugins.

7 Enable Compressions

Do you know what you do when you need to send a really large file through your email and it does not fit? What you do when you need to reduce file size in your computer in order to save on space?

Yeah, you are right.

You compress these documents.

This is exactly the same concept you use on your website. Compressing files, seemingly putting them in a zip file to save space, reduce weight hence increase site speed.

Here is how compressions work.

 

Page load time improved by Enabling Compressions

Really, why should you enable compressions on your website?

According to Varvy, enabling compressions can help you reduce your CSS and HTML files by up to 50%-70%. This means that compressing files will ensure that your site visitors don’t have to spend time downloading a lot of unnecessary files.

While this seems easy to do, how much you can compress is dependent on the web server you use.

Please read our discussion on choice of web server earlier in this post. Do you now see why your server plays an important role in your site? You choose a wrong one which does not allow effective compression and you lose out on site speed.

Anyway, don’t get me wrong. Maybe that server has a different strong point.

We only have optimum working conditions in lab experiments. In real life, we just find the best that we can and work with it. So don’t kill yourself because you have to compromise on a few things here and there.

8 Optimize Your CSS

Your CSS always loads before your site visitors see your site. This means that the amount of time taken to download your CSS is directly proportional to the time your visitors will wait for the site to load.

This means that you need to directly deal with your CSS and how fast it downloads.

Solution?

Optimize your CSS for a faster download.

The first rule of CSS optimization is asking yourself whether you use all of your CSS. Sometimes you might find that the amount of wasted and useless data you have in your website is negatively contributing to your load time.

Once you’ve done your website cleanup, it is time to minimize your CSS file. For example, the extra spaces in your style sheets increase the file size. Fortunately, when you optimize your CSS, these extra spaces are removed from your code, making sure that the file is as small as possible.

Quickly, let me show you how you minimize CSS files.

The easiest way is seeing whether your Content Management System already minimizes your CSS. You might be shocked to find out that your CMS already does the work for you. CMS such as HubSpot already minimizes your CSS by default whereas WordPress or Joomla do not.

In case you realize that the CMS lacks an option for minimizing CSS, you can use free online tools such ascsscompressor.com. These are so simple to use requiring you to simply copy and paste your CSS into the system and hit ‘compress’. Within no time, you will have your newly minimized sytlesheet.

9 Optimize Your Social Sharing Buttons

As much as you are advised to add social sharing buttons in your website in order to link your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google plus and LinkedIn among other social networking sites, these buttons also have a bad side.

Yes they will increase conversions by helping drive more traffic your way but these contribute in slowing your site down.

For these buttons to work, they need to use external javascript which unfortunately slows down your web pages especially when they have not been loaded asynchronously.

Let me first explain the importance of an asynchronous load.

Without this type of loading, each script will be loaded in sequence, meaning longer wait times. The illustration below shows you exactly what happens.

From the image you can see the different load times for the image, HTML, script and CSS among other features. You don’t want this happening to your website.

The fact that JavaScript is sending information from your site to the external site causes the social sharing buttons to slow down the site.

This is due to three main factors. These are:

Your server’s response time, the site visitor’s speed to load social media buttons from a different location and servers, the distance to the social media’s website server and social media button load time, depending on the visitor browser technology.

So, how do you avoid a social media button slow down?

Here is how NARGA did it.

The business used third-party scripts to load the social media buttons. In addition to that, these buttons were simplified.

Look at this example. Instead of using tons of javascripts and images, the option was modified as seen below.

 

Page load time can be decreased by optimizing buttons

Source

 

Lastly, as explained earlier on, the business opted to have the pages load asynchronously.

The results?

Load time decreased from above 3s to 1.55s

 

Source

Source

 

Final Thoughts

If you are running your website for monetary reasons such as eCommerce, then you need to care about every reason that would cause you to lose on conversions and revenue. Your page load time is one of those things.

To get the best results, don’t just strive to hit the three-minute level. The faster your site loads, the better for you. Ensure that you use the tips and tricks that we have discussed.

Please don’t hesitate to share with us other methods that have worked for you in the comments section below.

Author: Nora Flint, Head of Content Marketing at TruConversion.com

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4 Ways Social Media Advertising Will Help Your Small Business Grow

social-media-ads

The research firm Clutch polled small businesses of varying sizes recently to determine how they used social media in their business. One of the findings that stuck out to us as a missed opportunity for the majority of companies polled is their collective approach to social media advertising. While 30 percent of the responding business owners planned to increase their investment in social media ads, the majority did not. Fifty-nine percent of the small businesses planned to either remain flat, decrease their spend, or not advertise at all on social over the next 12 months.

When compared to Search and Display advertising on Google, social media advertising offers a cost-effective way to generate online leads, increase sales, boost search rankings and raise brand awareness. Following Facebook’s changes to its algorithm in April of last year–which now serves organic posts to only 2 percent of your followers as compared to 20 percent previously–it’s also become a necessary part of doing business and being heard from online.

More on those ways that social media advertising will help your small business grow are below.

1.) Generating Cost-Effective Leads: Social Media Advertising–specifically on Facebook–helps generate leads in the form of email signups and website traffic at a fraction of the cost of Google Adwords. Advertising on Facebook also helps you better target your vertical audience and remarket within the newsfeed to people who have visited your website at a highly affordable pricepoint.

2.) Increasing Sales: Advertising on social allows you to put your message in front of people or audiences who are most likely to purchase from you. It also creates the opportunity for word of mouth advertising from those who like, share, or comment on your ad; serving as a recommendation for your product or brand throughout their respective social networks and leading to increased sales.

3.) Boosting Search Ranking: An investment in Twitter Advertising these days is also an investment in boosting your Google ranking. Recently, Google and Twitter announced a partnership to index tweets, allowing Twitter to now have an effect on SEO. So where you might not have seen as much value in advertising for Twitter followers in the past, now some new opportunities exist as accounts with larger “social authority” are being rewarded in terms of page rank.

4.) Raising Brand Awareness: Whether it’s sponsoring a post on Twitter, boosting a post on Facebook, advertising for more likes or followers, or simply using a social platform to promote a product, social media advertising is critical in helping small business raise brand awareness. There are 156.5 million US users on Facebook and the average user spends 29 minutes daily on Facebook. The more investment you put into platforms where your customers spend their time, the more chance you have of increasing market share and growing your business.

-Author: Brendan Bowers

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