Things to consider before sellecting a new plugin for your WordPress Website

Plugins are to WordPress what apps are to a smartphone and in the world of Content Management Systems, and just how the iPhone was one of the first smartphones to offer virtually limitless possibilities thanks to the ubiquitous App Store, it isn’t a stretch to say that plugins have helped WordPress to a similar degree in making it the number 1 choice of Content Management System (CMS) across the world.

Of course, no good deed goes unpunished as it’s said and with all that popularity comes great security issues to be aware of and take into account before you decide on which plugin to install.

If you’re thinking about adding new features to your WordPress website, this short but useful guide from Diffusion Digital will help you decide on one that is fit for purpose and safe for use.

Ladies & gentlemen, start your plugins.

Your Needs

The first step is to understand what you need from a plugin before you even begin the search for one.

Take time to figure this out and note down the specific needs you would like it to address or any problems it should solve.

This is likely to save you resources in both time and money, and give you ideas on where to start your search.

The Developer’s Reputation

It makes sense to find out how preeminent a developer or the agency is in the world of WordPress plugins as well as how effective their plugins are.

The first step is to check the reviews, ratings, as well as the number of downloads their various modules have.

To state the obvious, a plugin which has had lots of good reviews and comments is a good one to go for.

However, don’t just take your decision based on reviews as you might miss out on identifying recently launched plugins simply because no one has downloaded it yet (there has to be a first one, right?).

A safe bet here is to look at plugins the developer might have released before and how they have performed. Even if they weren’t incredibly popular but has had mostly positive reviews and the developer has a good reputation, don’t hesitate to try a new one and help others by being one of the first to leave a review.

Security

It is estimated that the hacking of about 22% of WordPress websites is purely a result of some security issues within a plugin such as them being out of date or a vulnerability being discovered..

One of the most straightforward approaches to confirm the risk of security breaches is confirming when a particular software lastly got updated.

It is advisable to opt for packages that are often updated, at least within the past two months, and most preferably compatible with the latest version of one’s computer programme or website.

Software that is updated frequently has lower security risk; this is mainly because known issues on previous versions of itself are likely to have been rectified.

Look at the Changelog

A changelog is a record of all alterations done to a programme. By taking a look at the log, one can tell the security issues that have been resolved, if any, as well as what the application has to offer.

It helps one see the additional features that come with each update as well as how often the changes have been affected over its lifetime.

More modifications not only imply that the developers are keen to solve any issues detected but are also eager to tweak their add-on to satisfy client needs.

Client Support

Premium plug-ins have a dedicated team of personnel that works around the clock to ensure that customer experience is optimised. This means that any time a client makes an inquiry, they get a reasonably fast response.

Such a prompt response is critical especially when one is faced with a security risk. With a premium package, it is even possible for the developers to check for issues from their end by accessing your device or website.

Unfortunately, some of these features are not available for free packages usually so if the plugin has mission-critical to your business, spending the additional amount for tech support could be a wise investment. .

Recommendation
It is wise to consider acquiring plug-in bundles. Such a bundle comes with a few modules that work hand in hand. This can spare time and cash, as you don’t have to look for different applications from different companies.

Furthermore, all the applications in a group originate from a similar source, therefore, they are in sync with each other. On the off chance that for reasons unknown they don’t, you need to go to one source for assistance.

It is also more economical to acquire a bundle than purchasing individual modules.

Conclusion

It’s estimated that there are approx. 29k WordPress plugins to cover a wide range of functions and features so if you have an addition you’d like to make to the website, chances are that there’s a plugin for it.

However, taking the additional time to do some research before you make the choice can help make your WordPress site more secure and safer.

Of course, if all of this is simply too overwhelming for you, don’t hesitate to give Diffusion Digital a try, we’d love to help!

Improve Your Digital Marketing In 2019

Article written by Rupert Rowe

Digital marketing should already be an essential cog in your marketing machine because whether your goals are generating sales from your Ecommerce website, awareness for your brand or leads for the service you offer, in terms of cost-effectiveness, nothing does it better than digital marketing. Of course I would say that, and here is why….

If  you’re still on the fence about whether to invest in digital marketing, this guide should give you a good understand of the origins of digital marketing, the channels available and which ones may be worth it for you. For those familiar with this, feel free to skip over to the trends section.

 

Discover more about Diffusion's SEO department

 

A lot has changed over the last year or two, with the rise in popularity of voice enabled devices, voice navigation becoming an increasingly used feature in mobile phones, as well as the rise of Internet of Things (IoT);  the start of the year is a good time to brush up your digital marketing knowledge and set out a plan for the year ahead.

With so many choices of platform, devices and audiences, it is important to understand the features and benefits of each so you can take an informed decision about where to invest your marketing budget.

 

The Origins Of Digital Marketing

 

The term ‘digital marketing’ can be traced back to the early 1990’s when the Archie search engine was created. This indexed FTP files and worked alongside the huge stores of data that companies were collecting, allowing them to track customer information. The result was the ability to target a customer with more relevant marketing material and essentially was the beginning of modern digital marketing.

Competition and increased usage led to an increased use of digital matter which enabled the first clickable banner ad going live; as long ago as 1994. It could be argued that the success of this ad is what drove digital marketing forward. Estimates suggest 44% of the people who saw the ad clicked on it i.e. click-through rate (CTR). Sure, you could make the case that it yielded those high CTRs only because it was a relatively new concept but  it was a good metric nevertheless.

 

clickable banner ad 1994
This is the first clickable banner ad bought by AT&T and appearing on Hotwired.com

 

Of course digital marketing really started to take off in the 2000’s when the internet started to become more commonplace and not just reserved for the tech-savvy amongst us.

Moreover, the introduction of mobile devices and other ways to access the internet on the move such as tablets (called Personal Digital Assistants back then), over the last 20 years, has driven increased growth and transformation of digital marketing.

 

Types Of Digital Marketing

 

There are several different ‘types’ of digital marketing, and by type we’re referring to how it is implemented and the platforms put to use.

 

Social Media Marketing

Even if you don’t use social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn to share information about your business and your products no doubt you’ve heard about advertising on it before. This is a great way to engage with potential customers and promote your products and in terms of maintaining brand loyalty, it is perhaps the most effective way of increasing and maintaining awareness for your business.

But, you do need to choose the right channel for your products / services. Each social media platform has its own features, use-cases and what it can deliver for your business, you just need to choose the one that best suits your objectives.

 

Content Marketing

Not all that you publish as a business will be about sales and neither should it be. You need to publish a lot of useful and informative content online for people to engage with in order for them to find out about you, your services and what you could potentially do for their business. These are all important factors to most potential purchasers. Good quality content will pass on valuable information while engaging with the customer; it needs to be easy to read and appeal to your target audience.

 

SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the method by which you rank your page within the first few positions on the search results. You need to choose keywords that are relevant to your business i.e. those likely to generate leads or sales for you and then go about implementing a SEO strategy to promote the content and the website.

The key is to choose the right keywords for your business as this can make or break your SEO campaign.

To make things more complicated there are many different strategies within SEO that will have a huge effect on the campaign’s success.

 

Get in touch to find out how we can help with your digital marketing campaign

 

SEM

Search Engine Marketing is another way to ensure that you maintain visibility across the various search engines across paid for channels. The pricing models for SEM will vary from one channel to another.

For e.g., in Pay Per Click (PPC) Google is the undisputed leader. When it comes to display marketing aka impressions, which is how often a prospect sees your ad, Facebook leads the way.

 

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Simply put, PPC marketing is when you pay each time someone clicks on your ad

Compared to SEM which is often based on impressions, PPC costs work on a click basis only and they are therefore generally more conducive if lead generation is your goal.

 

Affiliate Marketing

Another way in which you can increase the awareness for your business and generate more sales is to use affiliate marketing links. In short anyone can list a product that you’re selling on their own site. If they end up selling a product of yours you pay them something. Think of affiliates as your network of sales personnel.

The great thing about this approach is that there are no limits to the number of affiliate links you can have and you only pay out after a confirmed sale. This dramatically reduces any risks associated with online marketing campaigns.

 

Emails

The email has been a wonderful invention not just for personal communication everywhere but for marketing purposes too.

In terms of acquisition costs, few platforms can rival the cost-effectiveness of email marketing especially when you’re marketing out to a warm or hot list i.e. your previous or current customers and qualified prospects.

You can use email to market just about anything – a new product or service launch, an event or sale you’re having, updates about the company or simply to stay in top-of-mind of your customers.

The only caveat with email marketing is not to overdo it as it only takes a single click for your audience to have had enough and them abandoning your list.

 

Radio Advertising

It may seem old fashioned but advertising on the radio can still work very well for certain types of businesses and offering. A lot of people listen to the radio at some point during the day and often at times when their attention is undivided for example in the car or at work.

 

SMS

SMS messages sent directly to your phone is an established digital marketing technique and works very well for most B2C industries especially those in the restaurant trade and/or offering local services.

WhatsApp is often touted to be the next iteration of SMS marketing but hasn’t quite taken off fully yet but with Mark Zuckerberg planning on integrating Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook, hopefully this is going to be on the rise, giving businesses yet another way to interact with and market to potential customers.

 

Prospects For The Digital Landscape In 2019

 

The traditional way of carrying out digital marketing is via a single channel. This could be something as simple as telling your existing customers to invite their friends to support your business; you could even offer an incentive to ensure people take the right action.

Alternatively you can do what Facebook and several other firms do and invite all your friends for you; you’ve given them permission somewhere in the small print. This is still a single channel approach but a very effective one.

Although this method does still work, it is no longer as effective as an omni-channel approach which as the name suggests, you target users at multiple ‘touch points’ and at different times.

With the myriad of ways consumers now engage with content online, from different devices, starting and stopping and then starting the explorative journey again, building a marketing campaign across multiple channels will dramatically increase a campaigns potency and effectiveness in 2019.

The internet has swollen to such a size that all the digital marketing channels are being flooded by online businesses. In order for you to stand out from the crowd and reach those customers you need to hit all the channels possible.

The types of digital marketing discussed at the start of this guide are all important, but the key here is you can’t target just one of these channels; you need to be utilising as many of them as possible in order to ensure your business is seen and heard as often as possible. This will help to ensure you are the first one they think of when after your specific product; helping to ensure they buy through or from you.

In addition, there are certain trends that are likely to be prevalent all of 2019 so it helps for you to familiarise yourself with these.

 

Understanding & Utilising Voice Search

 

It is estimated that by 2020 half of all the searches done on the internet will be by voice search. Searching using voice commands is the natural progression of the smart home systems such as Alexa and Google Home, and the beauty of these devices is that you will be able to find information on what you need while completing other tasks. This is important as most people lead exceptionally hectic lives making anything that saves time a hugely desirable commodity.

This means that you should start thinking about optimising your site for voice searches in order to ensure you are at the top of the page rankings when searches that are displayed may be read out on these devices. This obviously depends on the products you sell as it is widely accepted that repeat buy items are benefited by voice search where as one-offs and unique things will generally remain as they are in terms of search strategy.

The good news is that the tactics you are currently using for SEO and content marketing are still very relevant. In essence the voice search is no different to a typed search the only difference being the length of the search query.

Your website, the amount of time it takes to load, it’s engagement (or lack of it) are all important factors too so here are some things you can do to improve it:

 

Speed

In order to rank high when a voice search is performed you need to have pages that load quickly. You should take a look at each page and remove unnecessary clutter, pieces of code that are weighing the site down, heavy images and anything else unnecessary. The faster your page loads the better.

 

HTTPS

If your site is not already on HTTPS then you need to incorporate it today! This is essential for SEO and so must be an essential part of your digital marketing campaign in 2019.

 

Short Answers

It is important to keep your answers short. Users are increasingly asking long questions but want short answers that can be easily digested on the move.

You should perform a voice search on some of your keywords regularly to see how high you rank and what pages are linked; this will help you to improve your marketing focus. It is important to remember that people will phrase the same question differently; you need to infer the intent of a question not the literal response.

Getting good quality of traffic to your website is only half the job. You need to make sure that the website is doing the best it can to convert those visitors. and , it doesn’t matter whether you have a Shopify powered website you use to generate sales or a WordPress site to generate leads leads – having an engaging website is a must.

 

Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO) – The Facts

Most marketing people don’t like to think about the conversion rate; after all marketing is about making people aware of your brand and getting them to visit your site. However as wonderful as it would be to have 1 million followers this is not much use if none of them are purchasing your products.

You must consider how to maximise your conversion rates. Whilst there are several great guides on this subject online, this section is about giving you a basic understanding of CRO and making your website more ‘conversion-friendly’.

The first step is to establish where the majority of your customers are coming from. You’ll probably find that an increasing share is coming via mobile devices. If your site is not optimised for mobile devices then you are going to lose conversions; people need to be able to see all the relevant information without having to scroll left and right continuously.

Your site needs to look good on a mobile device, be fast and be exceptionally easy to navigate – this is where my friends in UX come in. The longer a visitor spends on the site the more likely they are to become a customer. Don’t forget that people do still access websites on laptops and desktops, the screens are different sizes and your page needs to adapt to all of these sizes effortlessly and instantly. If you have an eCommerce website then simple things like  showing when an item is out of stock will help customers not to waste time and help prevent them from leaving your site annoyed.

It’s also a good idea to create several mock sites and test them for conversion rates. This can help you to find the design that works best for converting visitors into customers. You can then change your official site to match.

Another key point is to answer the question of “why should I buy from you?” This is actually more important than what you are selling! Once people have connected to you and believe in your brand you’ll be able to guide them through purchasing your product. You can do this by making it instantly very clear what you do and what your values are.

You can do this with a prominent image and simple slogan. Although it’s simple, it will improve your conversion rate.

 

Leverage Funnels

 

Conversion optimisation is intricately linked with leverage funnels. This is actually true for many of your digital marketing strategies and the reason why it can appear so complicated. A leverage funnel is the process of gently guiding the customer from their first awareness of you down to their ultimate purchase.

Not every customer will complete all the stages, hence the potential customer numbers will diminish creating the effect of a standard funnel. Getting this process right will help to ensure the maximum number of visitors possible will end up purchasing from your site.

The first stage is to identify the need. You’ve made the product but you need to let everyone know that they need it. This can be achieved through content marketing, SEO and social media, by illustrating your product and demonstrating its value, you’ll create a need for it.

Next you need to proceed to the second stage of the funnel, this is where potential customers will search for information regarding the product they now know they need. 70% of people will use a search engine to find out more info; you need to have your keyword orientated content ready to help them realise that you are offering the best product for their needs.

Stage three involves checking out the competition. This is when you need to have something unique on offer, whether it be an introductory discount or some other sweetener. If you’ve done these stages correctly the visitor will see your product as the logical choice and proceed to purchase.

At this stage you can attempt to up-sell a better version of your product or even use a down-sale to encourage the purchase. In addition you can link to other relevant products and increase your income via cross sales.

It is important to record the data from each customer, you will want to confirm the lifetime value of your best customers and offer them extra incentives as they past certain thresholds; this will help them to stay loyal.

 

Content Marketing

 

People may tell you that content marketing is on the decline as more people use alternative ways to find the answers they need.

In fact the real threat to content marketing is the number of posts on the internet, all saying similar things. You need to design content that is unique, memorable and most of all, easy to read.

Content marketing remains one of the best ways to get your site established and known; with the right content and links you can build a good reputation. To do this you need to develop your content marketing plan today.

As mentioned all content should be original but it should also be relevant to the visitor. It can be difficult to make content personal but it is important as this will increase your conversion numbers.

Alongside this, some links to local and even national leaders of your industry will help to establish your reputation and advocate your brand. This will help you to get the visitors and conversions you need to stay competitive in 2019.

 

Video Content

You probably won’t  find it surprising to learn that video content is becoming increasingly popular. Videos can help a subject to seem more entertaining as well as allowing potential customers to feel like they are connecting with a real person in a more interactive and visual way.

Videos need to be short and informative but they are also a great way of showcasing a specific product. However, remember it’s a video so you need to treat it like a mini-film and create a storyline that shows the value of a product without needing to feature the product too much.

This will appeal to the emotional side of a potential buyer and increase your conversion rate. Don’t forget many visitors will only stay on your site for approximately 10 seconds; your video needs to get straight to the point!

If you can get someone to forget reality for a minute and make them laugh then your video is sure to gain more traction. Tagging it across different channels as much as possible will help it to be seen which in turn will increase the likelihood of it turning up in organic results.

 

Podcasting

Finally consider adding podcasts to your digital marketing strategy. A whopping 45% of podcast listeners have a household income above $75,000; that’s a lucrative market you want to be accessing.

A podcast can be listened to in the car, while working, cooking or even when doing the gardening. This means people can be finding out more about what you have to offer when they wouldn’t normally have the time to be surfing the internet.

The great thing about a podcast is that your latest podcast will be made available, via applications such as iTunes, without you needing to do anything. Your customers can access you without any effort and all you need is a script and somewhere to record it; the script doesn’t even have to be rigid.

You can also add advertisements into your podcast breaks which are surprisingly effective at creating sales.

 

The Bottom Line

 

Digital marketing in 2019 is set to become even more competitive as more and more businesses began to abandon traditional forms of advertising in favour of going digital.

Looking at the types of marketing in this article and the trends that are likely to prevail in 2019 can leave you feeling a little disorientated; but it doesn’t have to. By creating a plan you can tackle each of these elements one step at a time; ultimately creating and applying the perfect digital marketing plan for 2019. Of course, if you’re unsure in any way or need some extra guidance then you can simply ask for the advice and support you need.

It’s great to have someone there to help you, try us out today to see just how much we can benefit you!

A List Of WordPress And WooCommerce Plugins For a Variety of Uses

WordPress came to life on May 2003 and few technological inventions in the internet age have become as ubiquitous as WordPress when it comes to website Content Management Systems (CMS).

 

This is what the WordPress home page looked like back then:

Old WordPress home page screen shot

 

And this is what it looks like now:

 

current wordpress home page screen shot

 

The rise of WordPress and WooCommerce as a CMS has mainly been due to 2 main factors: ease of use and scalability.

 

As a CMS, WordPress is an extremely versatile and easy to use CMS with a learning curve that is much less steep than say Joomla and esp. Magento.

 

Scalability has been made relatively easy due to the myriad number of plugins that have been built for it by WordPress and third parties around the world.

 

If you have a WordPress site there’s a good chance you have at least a few plugins installed already. However, the list of available plugins and their potential uses are almost too vast to count thus making WordPress even more functional and scalable.

 

In this post, Diffusion Digital will talk you through some of our favourite plugins for a shipping and SEO. Bookmark this page as we’ll be updating it with more plugins next month!

WooCommerce plugins for Shipping

 

Flexible Shipping for WooCommerce

 

Flexible Shipping for Woocommmerce

 

Download: 20,000+

 

First up, we have the Flexibility Shipping for WooCommerce which claims to be the most advanced shipping plugin for WooCommerce and whilst we’re not sure we believe in that claim, it does offer quite a wide range of features and customization options to choose from.

 

There isn’t much that the plugin can’t do and is an ideal solution for WooCommerce sites in the medium to high competition sectors where offering a wide range of delivery options is a must.

 

In addition to allowing the calculation of shipping costs based on cart total, you could also do so based on weight. Plus, it also offers COD (Cash On Delivery) shipping options which is something most other shipping plugins do not.

 

Additionally, you have options to integrate insurance options which again, could be a way to add a USP to your WooCommerce site.

 

The plugin comes in 2 flavours: the free version which gives you the tools that should be sufficient for most small retailer and a paid option for more advanced Ecommerce businesses.

 

For a full list of features and the differences between the free and paid version, check out their official site.

 

WooCommerce Delivery Time Picker for Shipping

 

WooCommerce Delivery Options

Next up, we have the WooCommerce Delivery Time Picker which is a good option to consider if your WooCommerce store offers shipping based on time slots.

 

Successful Ecommerce stores know that one of the ways you can increase sales is by reducing the amount of ‘friction’ between the user and the buying process and it is usually a good idea to offer as many shipping options as is possible.

 

This plugin is more like an ‘add-on’ to your existing setup, adding the functionality of allowing users to select when to receive their purchase, giving control to the user on both, the day as well as the time.

 

Of course, not all courier companies offer this feature so it’s a good idea to check that yours does.

WooCommerce Weight Based Shipping

 

Woocommerce-delivery-options-table

 

No. of downloads: 20,000+

 

Being able to calculate shipping charges based on weight isn’t exactly a unique feature by any means but the WooCommerce Weight Based Shipping does have a super-useful way of offering this option.

 

There’s a section for adding multiple shipping rules and you can set further conditions based on when certain rules should or shouldn’t apply.

You can also configure your shipping rates based on total order weight, price or a combination of the 2 and although most companies will probably end up using either one it’s a good feature to have.

 

WordPress Plugins for SEO

 

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is to a website what the engine is to your car. Without it, no matter how amazing your product is, no one is going to see it.

 

The popularity of SEO has meant that this is area of plugin development is one of the most popular for WordPress which means there’s literally thousands of WordPress SEO plugins to choose from.

 

A thing to bear in mind is that no matter how good the plugin, they only offer you the tools to have the basic on-page SEO in place. If you’re hoping to attract a wide audience for your WordPress website, you will also need to undertake an off-page SEO campaign that encompasses important traffic-driving techniques such as link building and content marketing.

 

Yoast SEO

 

Yoast - SEO for everyone

 

No. of downloads: 5+ million

 

First up, we have the Yoast SEO plugin which is by far, the most popular SEO

plugin for WordPress around.

 

Yoast SEO comes in 2 flavours: the free option which offers you the basic functionality around keyword optimisation, page previews and duplicate content checks whilst the premium (paid) option offers you all of that and much more.

 

Here’s a snapshot of the comparison but for more on this head over to https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/.

 

Yoast price guidelines

 

At the time of this writing, the paid plugin costs £79 plus VAT.

 

If you’re asking “is the premium (paid) Yoast plugin worth it?” then our answer is going to be annoying yet inevitable: it depends.

 

For small WordPress sites in non-competitive sectors and where you don’t need to drive a ton of traffic to the site, the free option might be just fine. Or, if you have a professional SEO company who is looking after your site, both on-page and off-page as well.

 

However, if you want to do it all yourself and don’t plan on a link building and content generation campaign or traffic isn’t all that important, you may find the paid plugin adds a little bit of value.

 

All In One SEO Pack

 

All in One SEO

 

No. of downloads: 3+ million

 

The All In One SEO Pack is another WordPress plugin for SEO and just about as useful as Yoast.

 

All In One has a useful XML sitemap submission feature for those who don’t know how to work with Google Search Console or Bing (or simply aren’t inclined to).

 

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is becoming increasingly common-place on the mobile web and All In One has integration and monitoring capabilities for those 2.

 

Which is better, Yoast SEO or All In One?

 

The differences between the 2 are subtle and in many cases, comes down to your personal preference.

 

For example, whereas the various functions of Yoast are laid out on different tabs, All In One has then all listed on a single page (think of a multi-step checkout process compared to one where you enter all your info on the same page).

 

Another example is Social Media – Yoast does tend to offer a few more options for Social Media monitoring and integration than All In One.

 

WordPress Plugins for Marketing

 

Welcome back to part 2 of our list of essential plugins for your WordPress or WooCommerce website.

 

This month, we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the best plugins around to help you super-charge your marketing efforts.

 

The popularity of WordPress has meant that there are thousands of developers around the world building plugins for it for pretty much anything you can think of.

 

From a marketing perspective, WordPress is designed for small to medium sized growing businesses which means no matter what your skill set when it comes to marketing, there’s sure to be a plugin that is right for you.

 

CAOS

https://wordpress.org/plugins/host-analyticsjs-local/

No. of downloads: 10,000+

 

First up on our list is the CAOS plugin built to make the task of Google Analytics integration easier.

 

If you’ve got a website, you’ve most likely have an analytics programme installed too which gives you data about how many people visit your website, where they come from, actions they take and so on.

 

Google Analytics (GA) is one such platform and perhaps the most popular one for most small to medium sized websites.

If you’re considering adding GA to your site, you should know that GA only works once you’ve added the GA code to all pages of the site and often you will need to get your web developer to do it.

 

This is where CAOS comes in. it is a plugin for Google Analytics which allows to you connect to it without the need for any outside help.

 

The plugin is natively compatible with WordPress which means that installing it on your site is going to be seamless and hassle-free.

 

What’s more, once you have this in place, it can also show you the basic info from GA right into your WordPress dashboard saving you a lot of time and clicks having to bounce around from once platform to another.

 

MailChimp for WordPress

https://wordpress.org/plugins/contact-form-7-mailchimp-extension/

No. of downloads: 100,000+

 

Mailchimp is for email newsletters what Google Analytics is for website analytics so it’s no wonder that we have a bespoke plugin for MailChimp available.

 

MailChimp is one of the most popular newsletter software around and until the arrival of this plugin, it wouldn’t be too uncommon to find your email subscriber data separate from the signups from your website which means each time you had someone signing up to your newsletter via your website, you will have to manually add them to your MailChimp database.

 

With the MailChimp for WordPress plugin however, all of that is history.

 

Once installed and connected, not only can you automatically sync your newsletter and website subscribers but you can also carry out some advanced functions such as offering the ability of people who make an enquiry via your site to sign up to your newsletter directly via opt-in checkboxes.

 

This is not only a great time saver but will also go a long way in enhancing the size and quality of your subscriber list.

 

OptinMonster

https://ps.w.org/optinmonster/assets/banner-772×250.png?rev=1145863

 

https://wordpress.org/plugins/optinmonster/

No. of downloads: 800,000+

 

Speaking of increasing your email subscriber list, another tool that is designed precisely for that is the OptinMonster plugin for WordPress.

 

Your website’s conversion rate is one of the most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and offering multiple ways for a conversion (aka call-to-action) to occur is a must.

 

For example, even though your most important call-to-action is going to a sale if you’re selling something or an enquiry if you’re a service business, secondary call-to-action such as a newsletter signup or to download a white-paper or brochure can also be very valuable in the long run.

 

OptinMonster offers the ability to create several different types of forms such as popups and light boxes and even ‘exit-intent’ light boxes which can help you increase the number of page/views, increase conversions and ultimately make your website work better.

 

Drip Marketing Automation plugin for WordPress

https://wordpress.org/plugins/email-marketing/

 

No. of downloads: 9,000+

https://ps.w.org/email-marketing/assets/banner-772×250.png?rev=1817747

 

If your website’s subscriber count is in the triple digits, you need to have a marketing automation CRM in place if you don’t have one already and Drip is one such option.

 

In addition to collating all your signups and subscriber info from a variety of signup sources, a software like Drip can also automate certain marketing tasks that you carry out on a routine basis.

 

For example, Drip will allow you to send out an automated email notification to a a visitor who signs up via your blog each time you publish a new blog post which is not only a great time saver but also helps you improve your return visit levels.

 

Or, you can create lead nurturing emails which are designed to gradually move your user from the ‘cold’ to ‘hot’ stage of the buying funnel. In the long run, this can mean more sales for relatively less effort.

Getting your website ready for a Google Ads campaign

“You can't improve what you can't measure”

Those words were uttered by the famous Peter Drucker during the direct marketing days and well before digital marketing became omnipresent. However, his quote is perhaps now even more relevant (anyone try to measure the success of a leaflet drop campaign?).

Google Ads can be an invaluable Pay Per Click (PPC) tool to help your business generate more leads and sales and one of the reason for its ubiquitous presence is just how well it can work when you know what you’re doing.

However, the very reason that has made it so popular is also the same reason it has made it an incredibly competitive digital marketing channel and a very easy way to lose money if you can’t accurately track how well your PPC campaign is paying off.

 

Enter conversion tracking.

 

google ads overarching goals sub goals KPIs performance targets diagramConversion tracking is the section of Google Ads which allows you to create goals and events which basically tracks every possible conversion action on your website.

Ultimately you want to track not just the obvious conversion action such as a sale but also secondary call-to-actions such as enquiries, downloading a promo code, newsletter signups and others applicable to your business as many times, secondary/sub goals could, in fact, turn into your primary one(s).

  The benefits of having conversion tracking in place should be self-explanatory but here are a few to motivate you:

 

Get qualitative data

 

Conversion tracking allows you to deep-dive into your campaign data and get various insights which you could use for other marketing efforts. For example, once you know which keywords are driving leads and sales and which ones simply result in tire-kickers, you can use this valuable piece of information when formulating your SEO strategy.

As importantly, you can begin fine-tuning your campaign, lowering your bids or pausing nonperforming keywords altogether focusing as much as possible on the keywords likely to positively impact your bottom line.

Another example is getting to understand your audience and buying habits better. For example, by looking at your conversions on a device-level, you can get insights such as what device your customers use to buy from and then lowering your bids on devices that are least profitable.

 

google ads best and worst table

 

Sell more! Ultimately, the purpose of a Google Ads campaign for most small businesses is going to be sales (not brand awareness).

If you find that your Google Ads is working relatively well (think good Quality Scores, high click-through rates, low Cost Per Clicks) but it isn’t resulting in the expected ROI, there’s a good chance that your website or landing pages are the bottleneck.

By making improvements to the pages to which you’re directing your traffic, not only can you ultimately sell more but it would also have a positive long-term impact on all other digital marketing channels where you’re using the same landing pages.

 

Improve your marketing ROI

 

Whilst Google Ads is an incredibly effective source of lead-generation, your return from your ad spend will vary greatly depending on myriad factors such as how competitive your industry is, the quality and buyer-intent of your chosen keywords, how well your campaign is set up and much more.

By looking at your lead and sales acquisition costs on a channel basis, you can decide where your marketing budget is best spent and tweak your allocation accordingly.

Not only will it enable you to find out exactly how much you’re spending to acquire each customer through your Google Ads campaign but also help you make strategic decisions when deploying multiple marketing channels such as which one is more cost-effective and therefore to focus on more.

Hopefully, now that you’re convinced about the importance of conversion tracking here’s how to get started…..

 

Setting up Conversion Tracking

 

Ultimately, the Conversions view on your Google Ads should look like this, with multiple goals and events having been configured.

 

google ads conversion actions table

 

You’ll find an informative guide on how to set it up on Google Ads’s official resource but here’s an overview:

  1. Head over to the Conversions section of your Google Ads

 

google ads settings options

 

  1. You’ll be presented with a range of options for setting up conversions. Unless you’re selling a mobile app, you will want to select the other ones.

If you already have goals set up in Google Analytics then click on the Import option and you will be able to import your GA goals into Google Ads without having to set them up again

For new installs, select the Website option and you will be able to all configure conversion actions that apply.

 

google ads track conversions icons

 

The Phone Calls tracking is an incredibly important and useful feature which allows you to track conversions that originated via the phone. Whilst this may be less important for eCommerce websites, it is a good idea to have all of these in place.

Head over to this guide on the official Google Ads website for more on how to set up conversion tracking via phone calls

Here’s a simple guide on what to enter as values when defining each conversion:

 

google ads enter values conversions

 

If you’re using an eCommerce website powered by Shopify, WordPress WooCommerce or another popular shopping cart plugin, it is fairly easy to setup conversion tracking for your primary call-to-actions via Google Analytics.

 

Head over to the eCommerce section on the admin section of your GA profile and enable eCommerce tracking.

 

google ads enable ecommerce status setup

 

In most cases, you won’t need to do much else and once you import these goals into your Google Ads campaign, you can even see exactly which products you sold, their total value, how much spent to generate that sale and a host of other KPIs.

 

google ads campaign

 

TIP: Whilst you’re in GA, it’s a good idea to switch on eCommerce search tracking so you can also see what products your users are searching for.

For advanced marketers and eCommerce businesses, there are some other KPIs you may wish to track to get a more insightful view into your campaign performance and ROI:

 

  1. Conversion by traffic source: Where are your converting customers coming from? Once you combine this with the cost per acquisition of each sale, you can use this data to determine where you should be investing in driving traffic
  2. Conversion of new vs. returning visitors: Segment conversions of new visitors vs. returning visitors. Conversions for returning visitors are traditionally higher.
  3. Secondary conversion to first: By looking at conversions by each call-to-actions, you can determine how valuable secondary conversion actions are (e.g. what % of newsletter signups convert into a sale ultimately)
  4. Profit: What remains after you subtract the cost of running the store and all marketing expenses (don’t forget to take into account what you pay your eCommerce marketing agency)?

 

And, that sums up how to set up conversion tracking.

As always, if you need help at any stage or want to know how to setup Google Adss or conversion tracking for your own site, feel free to get in touch with Diffusion Digital and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

Steps to Take if your WordPress Website has been Hacked

keep wordpress secure

If you’re like most businesses, your website is an important cog in your lead and sales generation machine and there are fewer things more harrowing and downright disruptive than to visit your website one fine day and find that it has been a victim of a hack or malware injection.

The good news (if we can call it that) is that WordPress websites getting hacked is far more common than you might imagine so don’t beat yourself too much over it. What is important at this stage is limit the damage, to take the necessary measures to get your site cleaned up and running again.

In this article, we will look into how to spot whether your WordPress website has been compromised as well as taking a deep-dive into the methods you can use to recover it and get going again.

 

How to Spot if your Website has Been Hacked

cyber criminals

When it comes to hacking, you need to keep in mind that WordPress isn’t very different than sites that have been built using other platforms. Anything that is connected to the internet is prone to cyber criminals and even other, less popular platforms like Magento, Drupal or Joomla are prone to hacking too.

 

Here are a few common signs of a hacked WordPress site:

 

  1. Your security plugin sends you a warning: if you are like the vast majority and you are using one of many security plugins available, then chances are you will be notified as soon as your site gets compromised. As far as WordPress hacks are concerned, this is the best-case scenario, as it enables you to react immediately.
  2. The site redirects to another one: another sign that your site has been compromised is when you are trying to access your site, but you are redirected to another website and these are often adult and gambling sites. If this happens, you can bet that someone has got unauthorised access to your server and is ready to wreak havoc for their own traffic-gain benefits.
  3. You cannot log into the admin panel: probably the most common way cyber criminals hack their way into your system is by stealing the login information. Once they’re in, they will hijack your admin account so that you will no longer have access to your site and in some cases may even ask for a ransom (should this happen, never give in to their demands). In many cases, they will ask for a ransom. In case it happens, never comply with their terms. Here is why you should not give into ransomware demands:
  4. Google marks your site as insecure: if Google detects suspicious activity, they will mark a site as insecure in search results. Of course, they might also remove your site from SERPs altogether. In Google Search Console, you will be notified when your site has been marked as non-secure or has been removed from search results and Chrome and other browsers may also display a warning.
  5. Warnings from your browser: most browsers are now equipped with built-in security warnings when they detect phishing attacks, malware, cross-referencing or other malicious elements on a WordPress site. If you get a warning from your browser, you know you’ve been the victim of a hack.
  6. Sudden traffic spikes: a sudden traffic spike doesn’t always mean great marketing! Hackers will sometimes use hacked WordPress sites as their hub of distribution. In other words, they can use your site to send malware and viruses to other platforms. To avoid spam detection, they will link to your domain and then redirect visitors to another site. If you see some unexplained traffic spikes, consider running a malware scan.
  7. Your site displays strange links: another alternative that hackers may use to sending visitors to other sites is to place spammy links right on your site. This method enables them to remain hidden to run things from behind the curtain. If you notice that your site has weird links on it, make sure to take the steps presented in the section below.

 

Practical Steps to Take if your WordPress Site has been Hacked

 

  1. Keep your Calm

First things first: Relax! Rather than panicking remind yourself a fix may not be very difficult.

Being angry or stressed won’t help and just delays the process of you working towards getting the issue resolved, either by yourself or getting someone else to do it.

Important thing is to get to work right away.

 

  1. Locate the Actual Hack

 

In order to get the problem solved, you first need to locate the actual hack. Here is a quick list of questions we advise you to go through in order to locate the real problem:

 

  • Are you able to successfully log into your admin panel?hacked vs fixed
  • Does your WordPress site contain any illegal links?
  • Is your site redirecting to a third-party website?
  • Has Google marked your website as insecure?
  • Do you see on your browser a security alert concerning your website?

 

After you have answered the above questions with yes/no/maybe, follow the steps below.

 

  1. Contact your Hosting Company

 

At this point, you need to start acting. The best thing you can do is to contact your hosting company ASAP. Most professional hosting companies will gladly help you with this situation. The ones with more experienced staff have already dealt with hackers before, so they know how to navigate the shallow waters of WordPress hacking.

Before taking any steps yourself, it is wise to contact your hosting company. In case your website is hosted on a server, the hosting company can immediately see if the cybercriminal got access to your WordPress site through another site hosted on their platform. Moreover, there is a good chance that they might tell you how the hackers accessed your site and where the backdoor is located.

Hopefully, your hosting company is professional enough to detect the problem and to clean up your site after an attack. If not, there are other options you have at hand.

 

  1. Backup your data

data backup button on keyboard

While it may sound counter-intuitive, backing up your data after your site has been breached is a vital step in ensuring that you minimise the damage done. You should do this step at the same time you are contacting your hosting company. Keep in mind that some hosting providers might delete all the data on a site that has been compromised. Since you don’t want to lose all your precious data, it is always a great idea to keep a copy around.

Salvage whatever you can using your an effective WordPress backup solution or do a backup by yourself.

 

  1. Perform a Full Computer Scan

 

You can do this in parallel with data backing. And, why should you scan your local machine?

In many cases, the actual hack can trigger on the local computer associated with your WordPress account. If a cyber criminal has managed to compromise your computer, it is possible that they can extend their reach to the websites you frequently log into. Using a key-logger, the hacker can get free access to your WordPress site.

For that reason, install and run a full virus/malware scan on your computer. Additionally, ensure that your OS is up to date. By doing this, you can make sure that the problem didn’t originate from your computer and reduce the risk of being reinfected after cleaning up the mess on your WordPress site.

 

  1. Hire a Professional

 

If your website has experienced a strong attack and your hosting company is unable to help you, we recommend that hire a WordPress agency. Keep in mind that a vulnerable website only gets worse as time goes on, so the faster you can get the issue fixed, the safer your website will be.

Hiring a professional might come at extra costs, but you get the peace of mind that your website is up and running ASAP and the probability of a repeat hack is less.

 

  1. Restore a Previous Version

 

Now, if you’ve developed the good habit of backing up your site regularly, you might be lucky enough to get rid of the hack by simply restoring your site to a previous version. The only downside to this is that when restoring your site to a previous point in time, all the changes you’ve made since then will be lost.

Now that you’ve restored the old version of your site and minimised the damages, add extra security functions to ensure that you site will be able to avoid future malicious activity.

In case you can’t restore your site to a previous version or you don’t want to do to avoid losing data, you may be able to manually clean up the code.

 

  1. Scan for Malware

warning - visiting risky site

 

After you update the plugins and the theme, it is imperative to scan for malware. A good WordPress security plugin will automatically scan for malware and will scan your cores files for integrity. Moreover, it will tell you if whether your site has been blacklisted by Google.

Scanning for malware allows you to remove any undesirable penalisations by Google so that you can retain your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking.

 

  1. Replace Any Compromised Files

 

In case malicious code is found on any files, the best thing you can do is to delete those files and replace them with the original, uninfected version.

For instance, you can replace the core version of your WordPress site with a fresh version without ruining your site. As long as the wp-content section remains intact, you can modify everything else.

In fact, the simplest way to do that is to just go and re-install WordPress from inside the dashboard. Also do that for plugins and themes.

 

    10. Change your Password and Secret Keys

 

Another step you can take if your WordPress site has been hacked is to change the password again. Do not change just one password, but change them all, including backend credentials, MySQL passcode, FTP login and admin email address password.

Another important password you need to change is the SALTs. WordPress SALTs are secret keys used to encrypt important information. SALTs allow the hacker who has accessed your account to be able to remain hidden thanks to cookies. By changing the SALTs, you ensure that any access from the outside is deleted, and the hacker won’t be able to access your account anymore using the password stored in the cookies.

 

Rebuilding your Site

 

Now that the attack has been dealt with and your site is clean, it is time to get everything back. Get all the blog posts, themes or plugins back to their normal state from the backup files on your WP site or from your computer.

The last step of the process is to harden your WordPress site security to ensure this won’t happen all over again. Here is a blog post with just the right security measures: https://diffusion.digital/wordpress-website-security-bulletproof/.

 

How to choose a website design agency

The website design and development racket is a tricky field to navigate.

If you find yourself in search of web design agencies, it’s sometimes hard to tell the wood from the trees in terms of differentiating between the good and the bad.

The aim of this blog is to give you a few pointers on why it’s worth your while getting professionals to design and develop your website.

 

#1 How hard can it be? I’ll do it myself for a fraction of the price

 

Don’t get me wrong many people have successfully designed, developed and launched their own websites using one of the well-known platforms such as WordPress or Wix.

But, have they created something that truly reflects their brand or business? Well I’d bet that 99% of ‘self-built’ websites entirely misrepresent their brand/business or simply don’t do it justice.

A website is often the first place a prospective new client will look – the importance of making a good first impression is essential in building trust, driving conversion and encouraging advocacy.

 

 

#2 Due-diligence whether it’s a new business or an upgrade – don’t go rogue

 

So, you’ve made the right choice and realised what’s best for your business.

You must be careful though. As in every industry, especially overcrowded ones, there are those who have your best interests at heart, and then there are the crooks.

Owing to how diluted the industry is, the web design and development space is littered with people trying to exploit other peoples ignorance and make a quick buck and whilst most agencies in question provide a similar service offering to one-another, it’s up to you to differentiate between them all.

It’s important to try and choose an agency that will take as much pride in the client’s business and brand, as the client themselves.

This is obviously easier said than done but finding a team with enthusiasm for not only their work, but also their clients, will ensure a positive outcome further down the line.

An obvious place you can check this is in their case studies. If there aren’t beautiful examples of past work proudly placed on a pedestal on the agency’s website, alarm bells should be ringing.

Another easy way of finding reputable agencies is through industry related publications and the annual awards given out to leading website design agencies in London and globally.

 

#3 Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys

 

Monkey selfieWhen it comes to costs, if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is and somewhere down the line you’ll end up in losing out either financially or being lumped with a mediocre, under-whelming website.

Always bear in mind the number of different elements it takes to build a good website – design, UX, development and SEO. Each are very specific skills that people spend years honing and as such you expect to pay!

So, save your time and don’t engage with any company who quote significantly less than all the other quotes that you have received.

Especially in regard to SMEs and start-ups, budgets can be restrictive, but, considering the importance of a website plays on client’s first impressions, every effort should be made to make them as well-crafted as they can be.

Websites are often more expensive than people think but when you take into account the expertise you are getting for your money, the juice is worth the squeeze.

75% of user judgment about your business’s credibility is based on your website’s design
University of Surrey

People are often taken aback by the costs of building a custom website. Whilst these costs are usually fair, the agency should provide fairly comprehensive breakdowns demonstrating how they are arriving at the forecasted costs, including an idea of additional development and post build costs should they be needed.

Getting several quotes from different agencies should give you a good idea of a ballpark figure you should expect to pay.

Whilst there are some very intuitive platforms out there that can walk you through every step to building an intuitive and responsive website for relatively little money, the chances of you creating a website that best reflects your business is hard with off the shelf templates. What’s more; by using the standard themes offered by the likes of WordPress and Shopify, it’s likely that your website will end up looking similar if not identical to someone else’s and correct me if I’m wrong, it’s in a businesses interest to stand out from the crowd, not mix about in it.

 

#4 Forming Lasting Relationships

 

Digital professionals helping ambitious brands thrive online.

This is the mantra at the core of Diffusion Digital’s ethos and fundamentally lays out our driving force, and, in danger of sounding self-righteous, it’s one that every digital agency should pursue.

people working happily

I say ‘pursue’ because – owing to evolving environments, demographics and products, to name but a few – this process is changes with the times and we must adapt with it. Having an agency aboard throughout will make your life easier in the long run.

Agencies should demonstrate that they take genuine pride in the websites they help craft. They should take the time to truly understand what the brand or business stands for and the client’s objectives or vision into the future, as well as Key Performance Indicators.

When a collection of brilliant minds, hearts, and talents come together… expect a masterpiece
John Ruskin

 

#5 Sit back and watch your business/brand evolve online

 

The beauty of using an agency is that you should expect all bases to be covered.

  • Appropriate platform

Magento, WordPress, Kentico, Salesforce, Shopify are just a few of the platforms that people host their websites on and which one to use depends on your business. Engaging the correct platform from the outset is critical to all businesses moving forward in terms of functionality abd scaling the business in the future.

  • SEO structure

It is essential to involve Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) from the earliest stages of a website build. Creating keyword optimised landing pages will help Google recognise what your business is and subsequently, with an ongoing content strategy, high quality organic traffic will be driven to your site.

  • Clever custom animations

Being able to customise apps and other integrations is essential to truly bringing a brand to life online. Agencies make it their mission to tweak existing apps to best fit the profile of the business they are working for. This allows entirely bespoke interactions that will truly enhance the appearance and performance of the site.

  • Seamless user experience

Creating a site that is easy to navigate, with intuitive integrations and that’s pleasing both visibly as well as practically is a crucial part of attracting engaging and retaining visitors to a site.

  • Responsive design

Increasingly people use a variety of devices to access the internet making it essential to develop a website that transitions seamlessly from one device to another.

#6 Key considerations

 

  • Does this agency have the right expertise?

Choosing an agency cartoonThe agency doesn’t necessarily have to be old but it is worth checking the experience of the team who is going to be working on your account. It has been known that experienced people will be in the discovery stages in order to win the brief and subsequently pass the account onto less able juniors. Whilst this is great in teaching other people skills, it might not be ideal in terms of building your website.

  • Does this agency offer all of the services I require?

Where possible find an agency where all departments — SEO, Development, UX, Copy Writing to name but a few — are housed under one roof. In terms of simplicity, efficiency and ease of communication this is far better than working with agencies who sub-contact elements out to people who might be based on the other side of the world

  • Is my business important to them?

Find people who care. If it is a small project don’t go to a big agency because they might not assign the same amount of time as they do to other projects.

  • How many people will be working on my account?

This will vary throughout the build. Expect all sections to be involved during the initial discovery stages but once designs and strategies have been laid down the teams will work individually on the sections that are relevant to them before passing it onto the next to complete theres.

  • Who will be my main contact?

Ensure clear lines of communication are set up and you know who you speak to directly should you need to

  • What am I paying for?

You are paying for a team of experts in their respective fields to help bring your business to life on line. In a world where digital is taking over a little more each day, it is essential that we keep up with the times and by creating a beautiful website you will extend your reach enormously.

  • Do you like and trust them?

This isn’t just an agency who you need to help you in the short term. These individuals are going to be dealing with something which is incredibly important to you and as such you need to not only to like them, but more importantly trust them. You need to be able to look at them and tell that they are going to treat your baby – so to speak – with the upmost respect. Essentially a website design agency becomes intimately involved in the development of your brand/business and as such you need to see that they care.

  • Are they asking the right questions?

The agency should develop a deep understanding of the business and how it works during the initial discovery stage, this should also look into key performance indicators and future targets.

  • Are they able to provide testimonials and examples of work?

Whilst the agency doesn’t necessarily have to be too old, it is important that at least a few of the people who work there have considerable experience working in the industry. This can be tested by looking at the testimonials on both the individual as well as the work they have done.

Ultimately what you ant to ask yourself is whether or not you will form a good relationship with the agency and especially the team who are going to be working on your account.

Contact with an agency rarely ends after the build is complete and usually an agency will offer retainer packages to manage a website into the future. Moreover finding an agency who offers on-going SEO and content marketing retainer strategies that will help drive high quality organic traffic to your site.