My newest go-to theme!

I have been designing websites for many many years and have used countless themes, frameworks and builders but my newest favorite is the Ultra theme by Themify. It’s the most versatile theme I have used in a very long time. One of my favorite features, of many,  is the header selection which covers most any website I need to build for a client. Another great feature is the 60+ premade demos that you can install and have ready in mere minutes, talk about a time saver! Everyone knows you get those clients who wait tunil the last minute and then rush you to get the site done….oh yeah, been there done that…..but with Ultra this makes designing a new website a breeze.

I highly recommend the Ultra theme (they have tons more so look around to see which best fits your needs) for quality, outstanding support and the unlimited sites I can build with it…..so go check them out, what are you waiting for!

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13 Simple things you can do to show you appreciate and honor Veterans

In celebration of Memorial Day and as a gentle reminder that It doesn’t take a big bank balance to show that you appreciate veterans. We wanted to share a quick list of ideas to show your appreciation for our veterans.

The MARKIT team finds joy and pride in supporting our Veterans.  After all, as a country , they are ours to take care of, honor and appreciate. Throughout our years, we have supported numerous Veteran’s causes; from Honor Flight to Honor Bus, Celebrity Martini Glass Auction and many more.  Presently, we’re working with a start up focused on serving as a centralized veteran Support agency – simply, alignment of resources available for Veterans.  Stay tuned for more details on that this coming year.

In the meantime, help spread the word on these ideas.  Feel free to share some that you have done as well!

12 Simple things you can do to show you appreciate and honor Veterans

  1. Say Thank You. How easy is that? If you see a member of the military or a veteran anywhere, say “thank you for your service.”
  2. Talk to Veterans in your family. Chances are someone in your family is a veteran. If they are willing, talk to them about their experiences in the service. You will probably find out things you never knew and they will appreciate that you care enough to ask and listen.
  3. Visit a veteran’s hospital. There are many vets that are alone. A visit in the hospital means more than you may ever know. Nothing says you appreciate veterans like visiting those in need.
  4. Read your kids a book or share a movie about veterans. Start teaching your kids early how our veterans and the military served to keep us free. There are many books that are great for kids. The Wall by Eve Bunting, is an especially good book for kids. It tells about a young boy and his father that visit the Vietnam Memorial to see the boy’s grandfather’s name there.  A movie for all ages to enjoy is Honor Flight

    The Movie.  Be sure and get your tissues for this one!

  5. Pay for a meal in a restaurant. If you see a vet or at a restaurant ask your server to bring you their bill so you can pay for their meal. You don’t even have to let them know it was you.
  6. Volunteer to visit or feed the homeless. There are many homeless veterans. If you volunteer at a homeless shelter you are almost certain to encounter vets. Don’t forget to thank them for their service!
  7. Visit a VA retirement home. Take with you some large print books or offer to read to them. So many veterans in retirement are very lonely and relish talking with people.
  8. Offer a veteran discount. If you are a business owner, be sure to have special offers and discounts for veterans. If you are an employee speak with the owner or management about doing this to show that the business does appreciate veterans.
  9. Buy products and patronize businesses that support veterans. There are numerous businesses that donate a portion of their proceeds to help veterans.
  10. Volunteer at a non profit that supports Veterans.  There are so many we could  list, but we’ll share two.  USO – Military members count on the USO at airports and other locations. Whether it is a regular volunteer shift, cheering troops when they come home, or simply listening, the USO provides a wonderful way to help.   The Honor Flight network provides an opportunity for Veterans to return to the memorials built in the honor at no cost.
  11. Help remodel homes for disabled veterans. Vets in wheelchairs or with special needs often need their home to accommodate their special circumstances. Building wheelchair ramps or wider door thresholds are a big help.  If you are handy, this is right up your alley – or if you know someone in this trade, work together to support a Veteran in need.
  12. Give your seat or place in line to a veteran If you are waiting in line at the grocery store, ready to board a plane, or any public place – give your place in line to a veteran.
  13. Plan a cookout! Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day is the prefect day to gather friends and family and host a cook out for Veterans.

That’s just a few ways to show your appreciation for our Veterans.  Let us all remember, we are home of the free, because of the brave.  Thank you for showing you care to our treasured Veterans.

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Does your homepage explain your value?

Does Your HomepageExplain Your Value-

The homepage can often be the first place a new visitor lands when they find your site. Many of us get the feeling of wanting to get everything on the page. You want to explain what you do, showcase your products or services, talk about who you are, get people to sign up or take action, etc.

The issue is that if you put too much on your home page, people will end up taking no action at all because there are too many actions. Landing pages do great because they focus the visitor’s attention on the main action, usually signing up for your list or offer.

So how do you get your value proposition across to a visitor on your homepage?

No Carousels

That’s it. Period. They’re distracting.

Strong Value Proposition Above The Fold

You want your statement of value to appear as soon as they see the homepage, no scrolling needed. You may need one big sentence (H1) and a sentence underneath (H2 or H3).

This is the most important piece of the homepage. Your statement needs to be clear and written for the visitor. The visitor doesn’t care about you. I repeat, the visitor doesn’t care about you. They came to your site to find a solution for themselves. They don’t want to read about how you’ve been in business since 1957.

It will take time to get this part right. You may need to do some A/B tests of different value props for a few weeks (until you reach statistical significance).

How to Find Your Value Proposition

Start doing research! I’m not saying to steal a value prop from another website. But start going through sites (even ones not in your industry) and see how they explain what they do.

After a while, you’re going to notice that some sites do this well and many do it wrong. You’ll find sites where after reading the value prop, you still don’t understand how the company solves your problem.

Create a swipe file. This is a folder on your computer where you store screenshots of different pieces of copy or websites that you like in order to reference later.

Testing Your Headline

You’ll need software like VWO, Optimizely, or something similar to run A/B tests. These are just tests where you have two different options: Your homepage with headline A and another with headline B. Randomly different visitors will be shown each one and you can see which headline option produced the most conversions (or your preferred metric).

Get a few strangers to run through your site and take note of whether they understand the business from the value proposition on the homepage. You can also do this on UserTesting.com and have strangers create videos of themselves walking through your site.

How to Write Your Value Proposition

You don’t need to be a copywriter to write an effective headline. You just need to understand what makes a headline effective in the first place.

Here are two useful articles to help get you started:

Value Propositions and USPs: “My Product Is the One That…” from CopyHackers

Useful Value Proposition Examples (and How to Create a Good One) from ConversionXL

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Step by Step Guide to Creating Social Media Content

STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO CREATING SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT - MARKIT GROUP

Good content is nothing without the proper promotion. Companies (us included) love social media because of the reach we can get. We love being able to share something and have it reach our own audience as well as others who may not have heard of us before.

Social media marketing is about finding the right content and promoting it. Nobody wants to follow a business’s Twitter account if all they do is post about their services. It’s not enough to post a few times a week, you have to step up your game if you really want to make a difference with your social media efforts.

How do you go about finding the right content? How do you write the posts and post them? What are the best tools?

Let’s go over all of that now!

How to Find the Right Content

Learn About Your Audience

First off, you need to know your audience. Don’t just assume you know who they are. There are a few exercises you can do to find out more about your customers.

  1. Survey them: You can do this via email (given that you have an email list).
  2. Interview them: This takes more time and goes in-depth. You’ll want a handful of customers that are willing to spend 30 minutes or so talking to you.

“Ok, but what do I ask them?” Great question! You don’t want to ask just anything and you also don’t want to have leading questions. Below are a few resources with questions you can use on a survey or in an interview.

20 Not So Obvious Questions to Ask Customers on Your Survey

Survey Questions That Work: How to Unlock Your Customers’ Deepest Desires

Not that you have some qualitative info about your customers you can use this to craft a buyer persona.

Buffer has a great guide to help you build your first persona. In the article author Kevan Lee mentions, “Building personas for your core audience can help improve the way you solve social media challenges for your customers.”

This may seem silly, but it really can help you start creating consistent, focused posts that resonate with your target audience. It’s a great exercise that you should try at least once.

Finding the Content

Now that you know more about your customers and have a buyer persona, you can start doing some research. You’ll want to research what competitors are doing, figure out what your customers engage with, and which platforms they’re on. You don’t want to invest tons of time on Instagram if your customers are not on there.

First off, do some competitive research. Just grab a sheet of paper or a Google Sheet and list out your competitors.

screenshot-docs.google.com-2017-04-19-07-15-26

Simple Google Sheet with bulleted content from competitors

It doesn’t have to be fancy, you just want to put ideas to paper. Also check out what big brands are doing on different channels as well.

Here are some of the top content ideas you can try out:

  • Videos
  • Links to articles
  • Share testimonials
  • Share customer photos
  • Take photos at your business
  • Share info about staff (Birthdays, big events, promotions, etc)
  • Your services/products
  • Your blog content
  • Recipes

This is just a sampling of ideas. If you want more, here are 120 ideas from Keyhole.co.

For our fictional dog grooming and boarding company, Dog Gone Mad, we created a Google Sheet to start out our content creation process.

screenshot-docs.google.com-2017-04-19-07-21-16.png

Again nothing fancy, you just want something to help you get all your content for the month organized. Take your topic ideas and spread them out throughout the month. This is the best way I’ve found to fill up your month of content and not have multiple posts in a row about the same thing.

Now, you start filling in the content and urls! In the URLs section you can also put the name of images you plan to post too. Add relevant hashtags (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) as well. This may require some additional research to see which hashtags are popular among your audience.

You will want to have different sheets for different platforms. Posts for Facebook won’t necessarily be good for Instagram, which is image based. You’ll need to create a new tab on your sheet to make posts for the other platforms you plan to be on.

Give yourself around 1-2 hours to create content for each platform. Since this is your first time, don’t worry if it feels like it’s taking a while, you’ll get the hang of it after doing it for a few months. It’s all about figuring out what to post, having the content, finding the best websites with great content, and creating good post copy.

Here are some useful sites for finding content:

  • Instagram (Repost customer photos and credit the photographer)
  • Pinterest
  • TripAdvisor & Yelp (Screenshot and share the reviews)
  • Twitter
  • Feedly (Create a feed of popular sites in your space)

Posting the Content

Now it’s time to bring all your social media content out into the open. You’ll want to invest in a social media tool if you really want to get serious. We use and recommend Hootsuite. It allows you to manage all your profiles (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Instagram) and queue up posts for each one. It will also show you different feeds for your profiles so you don’t have to log into each one separately.

screenshot-hootsuite.com-2017-04-19-07-29-45.png

At a glance we can see our Facebook timeline, Twitter mentions, keywords, and new followers, and if we scrolled down more we’d see our LinkedIn and Instagram. Up top on the “compose message” bar is where you copy and paste your posts. There are options to add links, images, location, and schedule the post.

Give yourself around 30 minutes to 1 hour to queue up the posts for each platform.

Analyze the Results

Now that you’ve got your content all set up, it’s time to sit back, engage with your audience, and analyze what posts are getting the most feedback. It will take time to get it right, but don’t get discouraged. Social media is a long term strategy, and it’s more about engaging with your audience than it is about selling.

Any questions? Comment below or reach out to us at MARKIT-Group.com

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Marketing podcasts you actually want to listen to

Top marketing podcasts - MARKIT Group.png

Marketing podcasts are a dime a dozen. Every agency owner has one, everyone who has read three SEO articles has one. It’s hard to sift through which ones are worth listening to.

Well, lucky for you, I’ve listened to a ton of them! I’ll break them down and let you know which ones you should download and good episodes to start out on.

Ecommerce Influence

This isn’t necessarily a marketing-only podcast, but it’s perfect if you’re in the eCommerce space. The host talks to a lot of great guests about everything from Facebook ads to email marketing (which his company does) to the mindset you need to have to be an entrepreneur.

Listen to: The Silent Power of Email Marketing Pt. 1

ConversionCast

This podcast is from Leadpages and is hosted by Tim Paige. Episodes go into the nitty gritty of tactics that marketers and business owners used to get specific results. They recently pivoted the podcast to talk about what Leadpages does for marketing but the episodes are still great!

Listen to: What Kind of Facebook Advertising Really Works for Us

Traction

This podcast is more focused on startups but always has great guests and lessons.

Listen to: #30 Working IN vs ON Your Startup

Call to Action

Of course, if Leadpages has a podcast you better bet that Unbounce has one too. This is a marketing focused podcast that is released every Wednesday.

Listen to: Marketing Machines Part 1

Copyblogger FM

Copyblogger FM is a weekly, short-form broadcast hosted by Sonia Simone. Each week, she and a cast of rotating experts analyze the week in content marketing, copywriting, email marketing, conversion optimization, mindset, and much more.

Listen to: 13 Ways of Looking at a Headline

The Email Marketing Podcast

If you’re interested in email marketing and automation, you’ll want to listen to this podcast.

Listen to: Episode #99 – Rob Williams on Nailing Down Perfect Cold Emails That Land The Best Clients Out There

Marketing School

If you have just 10 minutes a day to listen to a podcast, make the most of it by listening to Marketing School with Eric Siu and Neil Patel. They talk about a marketing tip each day and you’re sure to find something to help your business.

Listen to: #230 7 Ways You Can Add Link Building to Your Daily Routine

Social Media Marketing Podcast

This is the go-to episode if you’re interested in social media marketing. Learn from Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner and his guests.

Listen to: Facebook Messenger Marketing: What Marketers Need to Know

Agency Advantage

If you run an agency, you’ll want to listen to this podcast from Hubstaff. They interview agency owners and talk about every aspect of agencies.

Listen to: 63: Johnathan Dane on building a $3.6mm/yr agency in two years

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MARKIT Group launches new site for Green Apron Cafe

Green Apron Cafe, a delicious meal ordering service specializing in family-style meals, was in search of a new website that would allow customers to submit orders online.

MARKIT Group, in partnership with Meal Track (a website ordering technology), built Green Apron Cafe a new, fully-functional website that allows customers to submit orders for meals for pick up or delivery. Visitors can also inquire about Blue Zones events, view the gallery, and more.

Green Apron Website.png

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New Site Launched for Paradise Coast Marine Services

MARKIT Group has recently built and launched a brand new website for new Southwest Florida company Paradise Coast Marine Services.

The site includes a custom logo and branding as well as a gallery, tours and services pages and more. Built on WordPress, the site is easy to update for the client.

paradise coast.png

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