Top 3 FREE Tools for Testing Website Speed

Top 3 FREE Tools for Testing Website Speed

Top 3 FREE Tools for Testing Website Speed

Top 3 FREE Tools for Testing Website Speed

We live in a world where the attention span of the clients is shrinking every year. An anecdote said that it is under 8 seconds, which is less than a goldfish’s.  Even if this is a myth, the reality is that developers need to aim for under two seconds loading speed to prevent bounce.

Studies already show that tasks which take longer than three seconds, even for web shops,  make users abandon the page. Google even advises going as low as half a second. They also announced to take a mobile-first approach, ranking websites after their mobile version’s performance.

Here are a few tools to help you see how does your website rank in the speed challenge. Be sure to test it with all of them and take into consideration the differences. Every tool has a different algorithm, and you should consider your actual speed as an average between the results.

This tool provided by Google themselves is a way to assess the performance of both your mobile and desktop versions. It measures the loading speed of the elements situated above the fold and the entire page. The great thing about this tool is that it gives you a zipped folder with the resources that you need to improve. You have to change your existing images, CSS sheets, and JavaScript with the ones provided and see your score jump.

This tool combines results from multiple platforms, including the one mentioned before and YSlow. It offers a school-type grade from A to F. We love this tool for its feature that lets you test the site from multiple locations and compare speed for different connection types (cable/dial-up/4G). Run the test a couple of different times to get an accurate report.

Similar to GTMetrix it offers multiple test locations, a breakdown of the elements organized as a waterfall, and possible improvements. We use this tool in conjunction with the others since it also has a history feature. Pingdom comes in handy when you want to track developments and identify the influence of specific elements.

Do you have the courage to run your site through these tools? If you got not such stellar results, we are here to help. Sometimes even small changes like optimizing one image can boost performance considerably. Remember, when it comes to website speed optimization, the devil is really in the details.

Shopify vs. WooCommerce – Which is More Cost-Effective?

Shopify vs. WooCommerce – Which is More Cost-Effective?

Shopify vs. WooCommerce - Which is More Cost-Effective?

Shopify vs. WooCommerce – Which is More Cost-Effective?

When it comes to an eCommerce solution, as an entrepreneur, you want the maximum bang for your buck while offering your clients top service. The world of online shopping is mostly divided between the two giants, Shopify and WooCommerce, but which is the most cost-effective?

We are going to make a head to head comparison, but let you decide the winner, according to your budget and needs. However, don’t forget that it is not only about current costs, but the potential to generate more revenue and the total expenditure.

WooCommerce

This is a free plugin for WordPress and is it designed to work with most themes which follow the guidelines in the Codex. However, although the software it’s free, running an actual shop will require a domain, hosting, an SSL certificate.  Additional features, like the design and other plugins (e-mail marketing, SEO), are usually part of the deal and could increase the total cost.

A rough estimation shows that you’ll spend at least $120/year to run a secure shop build on top of WordPress, using WooCommerce. The actual amount depends on the additional features you integrate, but not on the volume of sales.

Shopify

This is a SaaS platform designed specifically for shopping. It’s a one-stop-shop for everything you might want or need to start immediately, hassle-free. You can test it for free for two weeks, then you’ll have to decide between the four payment plans:

  • Lite ($9 per month)-only available for Facebook stores
  • Basic Shopify ($29 per month)
  • Shopify ($79 per month)
  • Advanced Shopify ($299 per month).

The basic plan offers you a package of hosting and SSL, but you still need to get your domain. The downside is that they also charge a part of your transactions. There are even calculators to show you how much you will pay every month.

The Verdict

Our recommendation is to invest more time and even money in the initial phase of your e-shop development using WordPress. Out of the box solutions like Shopify might seem tempting at first, since you can sell right away, with no coding knowledge. However, these offer a limited set of design options and are way costlier in the long run. It’s better to steer clear of any shop that charges you per transaction. Better spend more money upfront, one time, than having a recurring payment problem.

WooCommerce is the definite winner of this competition. It offers infinitely more customization options and total control over your data and source code. Without being paranoid, you wouldn’t like your information to become an additional revenue source to a platform already charging you monthly.

How to Create Valuable B2B Content

How to Create Valuable B2B Content

How to Create Valuable B2B Content

How to Create Valuable B2B Content

If you want to engage with other companies by B2B content be sure to value quality over quantity. For this, keep your information concise, innovative and actionable. In business time is money and if an executive is giving you a chance, it should be regarded as an investment. Simply put, give them back value for their attention.  Here are a few strategies to establish yourself as an expert in your rea and make your blog the go-to resource.

Educate, but Don’t Lecture

Successful business owners and executives are life-long learners, and they are aware they don’t know it all. That’s why they are also avid readers. However, nothing makes a person close a company blog faster than a superior, know-it-all, tone.

As a subject matter expert, share your know-how in a friendly and approachable manner. Don’t use jargon and abbreviations without explaining them first. Focus on the big picture and offer additional resources for readers who want to go more in depth with a subject.

Think Needs, Not Sales

Content marketing is not expected to generate immediate sales but build a trust relationship with a prospective client. Your communication strategy should be an extended FAQ which helps the customers know you and your products better. If they see you as trustworthy and knowledgeable, they will buy or recommend you.

Don’t be Afraid of Data

Most CXOs are looking for numbers to back their decisions and studies about others who already took the steps they intend to make. If you can provide rich content doubled by data about your products or industry trends you have more chances of bringing value to your readers. In fact, 76% of B2B buyers asked for more data and benchmarks as part of the content strategy.

Use Multiple Channels

Don’t be afraid to mix, match and repurpose the B2B content you create. To maximize your audience reach create different types of relevant content and spread them over various channels. Use social media for issues that need public awareness or are visual. Create videos to explain concepts or demonstrate the right way to use your products. Don’t forget about podcasts and interviews to make your voice heard or of getting in touch with your audience. Last but not least, always refresh your blog content to bring news and boost SEO.

Feel like you don’t have the time to curate your company’s blog to bring real value to your partners and potential clients? We’re ready to offer you strategy guidance and even take this problem out of your hands.

How to Use Big Data to Create Valuable Content for Awareness

How to Use Big Data to Create Valuable Content for Awareness

How to Use Big Data to Create Valuable Content for Awareness

How to use Big Data to Create Valuable Content for Awareness

Big Data is a buzzword that has infiltrated in almost every industry that has a digital dimension. Although it seems like a paradox, content creation for marketing and awareness purposes should be driven by data, not intuition. Of course, experience and knowing your niche and target consumer help. Yet, nowadays markets are so dynamic that sometimes it is hard to keep up with trends and preferences. That is where numbers can make a difference.

Google Analytics is Your Friend

A free source of Big Data available to anyone who has a website is the insights offered by Google Analytics (assuming you already have it installed). By glancing at the top reports or drilling down in the content, you can start creating a detailed profile of your client.

Find out where they live, so that you can tailor your content to offer locally relevant tips. Their age and gender could act as the starting point for adapting your brand’s voice to match their expectations. You could even include in your content cultural references that might be relevant to people who are of a certain age.

The traffic from the organic search report shows you what their interests are. Look for the keywords they use to get to your page and create more content on those and related topics. This could help you establish yourself as a subject matter expert.

Social Media Listening

Another excellent source of free data to use as inspiration for your content creation efforts is the back-end of your social media pages. Some of these include information similar to that from the Google Analytics suite, like demographics and behaviors.

Use listening tools to analyze the way followers perceive your brand. Aim to get overview reports and also look at individual posts, both your own and from competitors. Identify those which generate engagement, mainly regarding positive reactions (likes, haha, wow, love) and the number of shares.

Try to create more content within those lines without becoming repetitive or a copycat if you emulate a competitor. Also, set your tools to follow and analyze top social media influencers to have a larger pool of data regarding preferences and trends.

For the next quarter try to generate your editorial calendar starting from data, and not hunches.

What are The Best Tools for Podcasts?

What are The Best Tools for Podcasts?

What are the Best Tools for Podcasts?

What are the Best Tools for Podcasts?

Podcasts are the lovechild of radio and digital. They are the natural evolution of recording your favorite shows. Now you can just take them everywhere with you to enjoy at your own pace. Creating such media required expensive equipment in the past, but now the hardware tools for podcasts are just a laptop and a microphone.

We’ve gathered a selection of the latest and greatest (please read “free/freemium”) software tools you can use to give your business a voice through a podcast. The list is organized following the creation process: listing ideas, recording, editing, social media broadcasting, and auxiliaries.

Ideation & Organization

Of course, you could go old-school and just use pen and paper, but it would be a pity not to try modern tools. During brainstorming sessions, you could use a mind mapping software. If you have a more chaotic working style and would just love to drop everything in a virtual box and sort them later for inspiration, Evernote is the tool of choice for most creatives.  Lately, a merge between project management and ideation software emerged, which promotes collaboration, named Notion.

Recording & Editing

The sound is the lifeblood of a podcast. While most people can’t define what makes a recording excellent or unbearable, they know it when they hear it. Room acoustics are essential, but if you can’t have a professional studio, you’ll have to rely on editing to get it right. Audacity is a free, multi-platform tool to record and process sound files. If you are looking for a quick, one-stop-shop, with the recorder, editor, and publisher, there is Cast.

If you intend to have a live show, conducting interviews with guests, you can try ZenCastr which records on separate tracks, offers live editing, and integration with cloud services (Dropbox). To engage listeners, not just guests, work with SpeakPipe. They can ask questions, leave comments and be interactive.

Social Media Awareness

To extend your current fan base and connect better with existing ones, you could view Facebook Live as a way to podcast with video. If you re mostly a Twitter user, add Periscope to your tools for podcasts. The direct interaction could give you a few ideas about your followers’ interests. Turn these into new episodes.

Auxiliaries

To succeed in the crowded world of podcasters, you need to keep organized. Use a planner like Google Calendar. This will help you keep track of the themes and the availability of your guests.

After a podcast, you could think about transcribing the discussion to text. This is great for repurposing as a blog post. Publishing content helps you with SEO, as voice search is currently not an option. You could use dedicated services, but Voice Typing in Google Docs makes a decent output.

Did you know all of these tools for podcasts? What are your favorite tools that get you results? Be sure to comment with your ideas or share this article with someone who might find it useful.

How to Use Social Media in Highly Regulated Industries?

How to Use Social Media in Highly Regulated Industries?

How to Use Social Media in Highly Regulated Industries

How to Use Social Media in Highly Regulated Industries

There are highly regulated industries including finance (banking & insurance), healthcare (pharmaceuticals & hospitals) and legal advising which are under strict requirements regarding advertising and marketing. Creating a social media strategy for these highly regulated sectors is a challenge. Yet, it should not be a reason to abandon this channel. It just requires more attention, organization, and diligence.

Do Your Research

Before developing your own social media strategy, take your time to research competitors. What are they posting about? Is there a certain frequency? What kind of graphics are they using? How do they stay compliant? Would you change anything about how they do it within the given requirements?

Set Goals

After you have a clear understanding of what is happening in your sector, develop a set of goals for your pages. What are you trying to achieve through social media? Do you want to generate awareness? Do you hope to get people to take action? Are you using it as a way to display achievement? Attach numerical levels to measure success.

Create Guidelines

 Make a list of topics which are acceptable for the online environment. Study both your industry’s regulations and social media policy regarding the types of images that are acceptable to be displayed online. Make a list of the words you can use and those that are banned. Develop a brand voice description that will be used in conversations with followers.

Learn to be Compliant

Healthcare and banking have the strictest regulations. Before creating any content, the marketer should be aware of HIPAA for social media or similar rules for the banking industry. Also, aim to have a good understanding of social media guidelines.

Create an Approval Process

In these industries, it is a good idea to have your social media content checked by a paralegal. This might slow down the creation and publication workflow. You just need to think ahead a few weeks.

Prepare a Content Calendar

Don’t rely on the moment’s inspiration, create a clear schedule of what you want to publish, complete with copy, images and relevant links. Pre-load your profiles with content and ask the paralegal to look at it before publishing.

Think in Checklists and Templates

To simplify tasks and avoid mistakes create lists (time/info/compliance/accuracy) and don’t be afraid of templates. If you have a distinctive corporate culture, these will not be boring, but create consistency.

Don’t worry if you have to manage the profiles of businesses in highly regulated industries. Just follow our steps. We encourage you to comment or reach out to us if you have comments or need more guidance.