Designing a great looking website doesn’t need to be prohibitively expensive or overly complicated. In fact, you don’t need to spend a single nickel and you don’t need to have any specialized coding skills whatsoever to have a clean, responsive web design, complete with built-in SEO tools and fancy features like integrated Google Maps, Soundcloud integration, website passwords and even e-commerce functionality. This is the promise of SITE123 and they say they can do it for free.
The Easiest Website Builder
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Positioning itself as “by far the easiest free website builder” around, SITE123 is meant to be as accessible as possible to all users, regardless of technical expertise or experience.
While web design might feel like an incredibly daunting and intimidating proposition for a lot of people, SITE123 makes it easy for anyone to have a professional-looking website up and running literally in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is decide on the type of website you want to have, customize the options to suit your preferences and enter your content.
SITE123 is casting its net wide with its browser-based solution. This is great for entrepreneurs and freelancers, for instance, who want to have a great online presence without the potentially huge expense of hiring a professional designer to come up with a completely unique design. All you have to do is work your way through the easy-to-follow wizard.
Easier Than Drag and Drop
You’ve likely come across some other site builders where the interface is designed to be drag-and-drop. You choose the elements you want to have, you drag them into place, and then you can move them around or resize them, adding the details (like text and color) accordingly. That’s far easier than raw code, of course, but it still adds a layer of complexity that can be confusing or frustrating to use for some people.
SITE123 works differently in that you get to pick between a number of pre-configured designs and layouts through more of a point-and-click kind of interface. The “live” preview of your website or webpage appears on the right as you navigate through the multi-tiered menu on the left. What you see above is an example of a homepage that I worked on for the purposes of this review.
I was able to simply and easily choose the website name, customize the text for the title and slogan, and select from a huge library of royalty-free images to use as the background. In going through the available layouts, I found several that made it easy to integrate a video as part of the design too. While you may not have quite as many options as some other site builders, this also allows for a greater level of simplicity and approachability. The same holds true for the various pages you want to have your website.
A great way to catch a glimpse into how the SITE123 free website builder works are with the three-minute video they posted on YouTube. It offers a quick overview of several of the key features and interface choices for the site builder, so you’ll know what to expect before you decide to build a website of your own.
SITE123 Offers All Kinds of Websites Tools
What’s really fascinating about the SITE123 system is that it can be used to power a wide variety of websites.
Regardless of the kind of website you want to run, you have access to a huge wealth of features, including free hosting, free SSL/HTTPS encryption, unlimited web pages, email accounts, 24/7 website support, and access to a gigantic image, icon and video library that you can use to populate your website as you see fit. This “gallery” tool is incredibly useful and easy to use too.
Based on the type of website that you are interested in building, you’ll be presented with a slightly different set of options and default layouts. The tools that integrate into a photography website, for example, would not be the same as the ones used for promoting and selling tickets for an event, or the kind of website you might want to have to host your CV and portfolio.
I was surprised to see the online store among this list of options, as e-commerce usually comes at a cost with most other providers. With SITE123, you can quickly and easily set up an online store that is always open and ready to accept orders. Simply populate your online store with your products, and you’ll be able to manage orders and handle customer inquiries with ease.
SITE123 Even Has Full Blogging Capabilities
Yes, you can use SITE123 to create a blog too. Remember that you get access to a great library of images and videos, as well as the ability to host unlimited pages on your account, making it a great option for a blog. The site is automatically responsive and search engine optimized too.
The interface for managing your blog posts is kept simple and straightforward. You can see the thumbnail image and title along the left, the publish date and time in the middle (including the ability to schedule posts), and the buttons along the right to edit, delete and change the visibility.
Within each individual blog post, you are similarly offered a simple but very robust WYSIWYG editor. Here, you can assign the title, date and time, as well as post tags. The image can come from the royalty-free gallery or you can upload your own. The short description is the meta description that shows up on your homepage and in search engine results, and the long description is the blog post itself.
As you can see, you have access to full formatting tools like bold, italics, bullet points, blockquotes and so forth. You can also easily insert images and videos, adding links and changing other properties as you see fit. One feature that I found helpful was that when you click in an empty paragraph space in the editor, a small “plus” symbol appears on the left for “quick insert.” Clicking on this reveals a floating toolbar to insert images, videos, tables, unordered lists, ordered lists and horizontal lines. Handy!
Is It Really Free?
The site builder itself is completely free and it really does come with free hosting too. The catch is that your website can only live on a SITE123 subdomain and you are limited to 500 MB of storage and 1 GB of monthly bandwidth. You can have theoretically unlimited pages, but they need to fit within the confines of your account.
If you wish to map your website to your own custom domain, you will then need to invest in at least the $9.80/month premium plan. This removes the SITE123 floating tag and upgrades you to 10 GB of storage and 5 GB of bandwidth, as well as providing you with a free domain for a year and access to e-commerce tools.
Beyond the free and premium plans featured on the pricing page, there are also options for even higher plans too. These generally increase the amount of storage and bandwidth you have, but there are some other notable upgrades too. For example, while the $9.80/month plan gives you e-commerce, you are limited to 10 orders per month. Each successively larger plan increases that number. You can also add more mailboxes, unlock additional languages, remove the SITE123 footer tag, and leverage more advanced e-commerce features.
Go ahead and take SITE123 for a free test drive first. It costs you nothing to get started and you can have an account in a matter of seconds. This really is the easiest and most robust free website builder around.
Sell More with Omnisend: Ecommerce Marketing Automation for Smart Marketers
Email marketing has withstood the test of time. While other marketing techniques and fads have come and gone, email has remained vigilant. It’s still far and away one of the most reliable and consistent ways to reach your current and potential customers, but generic email marketing platforms may no longer be enough for your business. As a smart marketer, you need a more robust and versatile solution, and that’s where Omnisend can elevate your email marketing to a whole other level.
Ecommerce Marketing Automation
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Let’s be perfectly honest. The reason why you want to be able to reach out to your customers is that you want to drive sales. Brand recognition and site visits are enough. What can you do to actually boost sales figures and improve conversions?
With Omnisend, you gain access to “omnichannel tools for sales-driven marketers that have outgrown the generic email marketing platforms.” So, what does this actually mean? You still get the standard email marketing tools at your disposal, creating and distributing email newsletters to your subscribers, but Omnisend is designed specifically with sales in mind.
If you want to improve your sales figures, you must first gain an understanding of your customers’ shopping behavior. What are they actually doing when they’re on your e-commerce site? Where are the sticking points? Where are the lost opportunities that could be turned around? Omnisend helps you connect those dots with actionable data.
And remember that not all customers are going to be the same. It wouldn’t make sense if you put everyone through the exact same sales funnel. That’d be like trying to use a hammer where a screwdriver is needed. With Omnisend, you get flexible segmentation so that the the messages you send are much more relevant and targeted. Better personalization leads to higher engagement and better conversions. And Omnisend supports both SMS and email too.
Walking Through an A/B Test Campaign
You can use Omnisend to set up a fairly traditional email marketing campaign, pushing out newsletters to promote current offers and deals in your e-commerce store. The same is true with an SMS campaign. To take it just a smidge further, I tried to set up an A/B split test. Basically, this lets you send out two different versions of an email to see which one works the best.
After choosing the A/B test from the available options, I was shown this initial setup screen. You can see all the steps of the easy-to-follow wizard near the top. You can choose to perform a split test based on the email subject line or based on the sender’s name. You enter the corresponding information in the fields below.
As of this writing, there are five standard templates that you can use for your email message. Each of these is easily previewed before you select it.
Filling in the content and customizing the layout is performed through a straightforward WYSIWYG, drag-and-drop type editor. Click on any of the elements to customize them, like adding in your own images. In the case of a product listing, the product name, description, current price, and original price are filled out in the right sidebar rather than in the “live” preview on the left.
It only takes a minute or two to design a professional-looking email, complete with branding and a professional layout that looks great on both desktop and mobile. Here’s a quick mockup I put together with some filler text and images. Then, all you need to do is define your recipients, finalize your A/B settings, and send the email! It’s really, really easy to do.
Automation and Workflows
Perhaps one of the more powerful implementations you’ll find in Omnisend is the automation. These are then organized into workflows that you can customize to fit your particular situation. The welcome email is one of the most basic workflows, but you’ll find that something like the cart recovery workflow can be much more powerful.
You have the customer who visited your site, clearly expressed interest in product, and added the item to the cart, but then left without completing the sale. How can you recover that potential sale? With this automated workflow! The workflow is first triggered by the abandoned cart.
After a one-hour delay, the first email can be sent as a gentle reminder to see if they’re “still shopping.” If they don’t come back to complete the sale, a second email is sent 11 hours later as another reminder. After another 12 hours, a third email is sent with a bit more urgency, telling the customer that they should hurry as their cart “is about to expire.”
You can see exactly how many customers have entered the workflow, are currently in the workflow, and have exited the workflow at any given time. An “exit” is defined as making a purchase or receiving the final follow-up email.
Other workflows include an abandoned cart with just one email, browse abandonment, a 3-email welcome drip, and a birthday email, as well as the opportunity construct your own custom workflow.
With Omnisend, you naturally also have full access to launching new signup forms, reviewing and managing your list of subscribers, and going through all your reports to analyze your customer data. There’s also a live view so you can see who is visiting your website in real time and what they are doing there.
Free Demo, Free Trial, and Pricing Schemes
If you’d like to get a handle on how Omnisend could work for you, you can sign up for a free personal demo. This includes a 1-on-1 interaction where you can get a full product walkthrough, asking any specific questions you may have about Omnisend. If you’d rather take it for a spin yourself, there’s also the 14-day trial where you have access to all the benefits with no credit card required.
Once you do decide to sign up, you’ll find that the pricing schedule for Omnisend depends on the number of subscribers that you have. There’s also a 20% savings when you opt for annual billing rather than monthly billing.
Pricing starts at just $8 per month (when paying annually) for the standard plan with 500 subscribers. For reference, the equivalent standard plan for 1,000 subscribers, 2,500 subscribers, and 5,000 subscribers is $12/month, $24/month, and $40/month, respectively. There’s also the free plan (with limited features), and the pro plan (starting at $160/month) with more personalization and scale.
The ‘What the Aff’ Daily Newsletter for Affiliate Marketers
It can be difficult to keep up with the world of affiliate marketing, just like with any other fast-moving industry. There’s always something happening, and these changes and new developments can have an immediate and dramatic impact on your bottom line. What can you expect with the next Google algorithm update? Is there a new Facebook feature you should know about and integrate into your marketing campaigns?
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At the same time, your time is understandably at a premium and you can’t spend hours on end every day catching up on every affiliate marketing news stories that passes through the web. You just want the freshest content delivered in a convenient and easily understood way. To that end, What the Aff is an especially appealing newsletter that caters specifically to this kind of audience.
Be in the Know
You may already be familiar with Manu Cinca from his other ventures in the online world. And the What the Aff newsletter is his “absolute focus” right now.
Rather than bombard you with dozens and dozens of lengthy news articles, rather than provide a bottomless lists of links around the web that’ll occupy you for hours without the equivalent benefit, What the Aff is an affiliate daily newsletter with “carefully curated affiliate marketing news, tech, and actionable advice.”
Cinca is taking the time to find and share only the stories that matter the most to affiliate marketers. The newsletter is delivered fresh every weekday to your inbox via email, making for a quick and convenient update on what you need to know about affiliate marketing today. The newsletter is designed to be consumed in five minutes or less, so you can “be in the know” and get on with your day.
Your Daily Fresh Take
The newsletter isn’t “over-designed,” and is instead offered in a lightweight, easy to skim format. Each daily newsletter typically contains about five stories in total; in addition to the title for each story, you’ll also find a convenient highlighted “category” like “Facebook” or “GDPR,” so you’ll know what to expect. That way, you can even focus on the stories that interest you the most and skip the others.
The writing is conversational yet authoritative in tone. The information is presented in easy to understand language, including relevant links as appropriate if you’re interested in learning more. You might learn about finding great e-commerce suppliers one day, Bing Ads artificial intelligence the next, and the psychology behind clicking search ads in another.
Paragraphs are rarely more than a few sentences, making for easily digestible (and skimmable) content. Opinions are backed up by relevant statistics and data, and you are oftentimes provided with actionable steps or guidance for where you can go from here. For example, in learning about clicking on search ads, you’re reminded to “always make sure your ad copy is highly relevant to the users’ search query.” You’re also told YouTube ads, display ads and Facebook ads should be used together “to build the brand awareness” before you start creating “branded campaigns using Search Ads to drive the final push” toward conversions.
At the end of each newsletter is a section called “Poolside Chat.” This is where you’ll find “cool tech, (funny) business, lifestyle and all other things affiliates like to chat about.” Some of this stuff might not be directly related to affiliate marketing but still of interest to people who are in the business of affiliate marketing. And you’ll get some clever memes along the way too.
Tasteful Sponsored Content
While there is certainly a website component to What the Aff (more on that in just a moment), the primary focus is understandably on the email newsletter. What you’ll find with some other websites and newsletters in this space is that they can overwhelm you with all the ads, burying the actual content that you want to read. That’s not at all the case with What the Aff.
Near the top of each newsletter, under the header summary for the day, you’ll find a small logo that indicates the day’s newsletter is “brought to you by” XYZ company. The logo is clickable, so you can click on it to visit the sponsor’s website.
Just before the Poolside Chat section of the What the Aff newsletter, you’ll typically also find a sponsored story that is clearly indicated as such. The sponsored story will relate back to the sponsor (of course), but it’s not just one sales pitch after another. This is tasteful content that may actually be useful to you, just like all the other (non-sponsored) content in the newsletter.
For example, a sponsor of one of the more recent newsletters was STALCO. The sponsored story talks about how you may be paying way too much customs duty if you are importing products from overseas and selling to US customers. You are then told about the Duty Drawback Program and how you can take advantage of it, recouping most, if not all, of your import duty.
The Online Archive
For the greatest level of convenience and ease of access, you’re naturally encouraged to subscribe to the What the Aff newsletter via email. There’s a simple, one-line sign-up form on the main page of the site. You can’t miss it and it’s 100% free.
If you’d prefer to read the newsletters on the web, or if you want to reference back to older issues, the full newsletter archive is also offered on the What the Aff website. Based on my own experience these past few days, the daily newsletter appears to be published in the archive on the same day the newsletter is sent out via email.
In either case, the content you’ll get via this newsletter is highly actionable, decidedly relevant, and well-written without fluff. It’s just the straight goods, in five minutes or less. What more could you ask for?
Social Shark Automates Your Instagram Engagement Throughout 2019
When it comes to active engagement, few social media platforms can hold a candle to Instagram. Users not only check their Instagram feeds and post to their profiles more often, they’re also liking and commenting on posts much more often too. From a branding and marketing perspective, Instagram is one of the most powerful opportunities to come along in recent years… but how can you get noticed among that deluge of content?
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Organic engagement is a big part of that equation, but not too many people have the actual time and resources to dedicate to performing that task manually on a consistent basis. Instead, you need to look into a tool like Social Shark that can grow your Instagram account quickly and in a sustainable way. And it comes with even more functionality too.
Doing It for the ‘Gram
There are a few components to the Social Shark package. One of these is the Instagram tracking tool. Simply posting and engaging aren’t enough. You need to see what’s actually working so you know where you to focus your efforts.
That which gets measured gets managed. Just as you should have tools set up to track and analyze the traffic that you get to your website, just as you would track any advertising campaign to determine your return on investment (ROI), the exact same thing is true when it comes to your efforts on Instagram.
You need the ability to analyze your posts, engagement, growth and more in as efficient and as user-friendly a fashion as possible. With Social Shark, you get easy-to-understand graphs and charts that visualize the data, including information on followers, engagement rate, future projections, top posts and so on.
Automate Your Engagement
When you first log into your Social Shark account, you’ll need to connect your Instagram account to it. All the navigation is found along the left sidebar, and you’ll be shown some new posts and guides on how to improve your Instagram performance too.
In addition to the ability to grow your Instagram followers by buying followers, perhaps the most important aspect of Social Shark is that you can automate your engagement. The key to Instagram is visibility, so people need to see that your account exists and that it is of interest to them. However, you probably don’t want to spend hours on end finding posts to like and comment on yourself by hand, right?
The automation process with Social Shark lets you define a number of key criteria. From there, the tool will automatically go around on Instagram to find posts under your defined profile, liking and commenting on posts, as well as following and unfollowing accounts. This organic marketing technique is remarkably effective, as it appears totally natural.
In order to get the most of this tool, you’ll need to configure your filters to best suit what you are trying to accomplish and who you are trying to target. There are fields to decide on media age, minimum/maximum followers, minimum/maximum likes, minimum/maximum followings, and gender.
Below that, there are areas where you can type in the hashtags, users, and specific areas you want to target. In the case of users, you can look to competitors and other accounts in your niche. If you’re Nike, for instance, there’s a good chance that people who follow Reebok and Adidas are interested in you too. Other options include the ability to add to keyword blacklists and define several comments that can be posted on your behalf automatically.
Generate the Right Hashtags
Another very useful aspect of Social Shark is its Instagram hashtag generator. It does exactly what you think it does, and it does it very well.
While it’s common to find a hashtag generator wherein you provide a keyword and the tool returns several related keywords and hashtags, Social Shark goes much further than that. While you can certainly generate by keyword, you can also generate a list of relevant hashtags by uploading an image or providing a webpage URL.
To test this out, I uploaded a picture of a sports car. As you can see in the screenshot above, the Social Shark Instagram hashtag generator then produced such hashtags as #race, #competition and #vehiclewrap. You can see the relative popularity of the hashtag, and then you can select which ones you’d like to use. When you click on the “Copy Selected Hashtags” button at the bottom, the selected hashtags are copied to your clipboard for insertion in your image caption or comments.
Buy Likes and Views Too
As mentioned earlier, a service offered by Social Shark is the option to buy likes and views too. This can help to jump start the engagement on your Instagram content, as users are typically more inclined to like and comment on posts that already have some activity on them.
The pricing on this service is incredibly affordable and it gets cheaper based on volume. Even the starter package with 500 likes only costs $4.99. No password is required, delivery is instant, and you have a “spreading option” if you’d like too. Scaling up, you get 1,000 likes for $9.99, 1,500 likes for $13.99, or even 20,000 likes for $75.99.
How Much Does It Cost?
When signing up for Social Shark, you can choose between two pricing plans, depending on the level of growth you’re trying to achieve.
Both the Starter and the Popular plan offer exactly the same services with exactly the same functions. As described above, you get such features as follow/unfollow engagement, automatic liking and commenting on Instagram posts based on your specific filtering parameters, and detailed account and post statistics, as well as access to premium support and the hashtag generator tool. The main difference is that the Popular plan allows for faster growth with double the engagement rate.
The Starter and Popular plans are $40/month and $75/month when paying on a month-by-month basis; you can enjoy a discount when paying on an annual term, bringing the monthly cost down to $30 and $60, respectively. In all cases, take advantage of the 7-day free trial and see what Social Shark can do for you.
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