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How to do cannabis marketing the right way.

How to do Cannabis Marketing the right way?

  This is a question we get asked a lot.  The cannabis industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. With legalization increasing across the country, the industry is booming. According to some estimates, it is set to double by 2025!  If you’re wondering where to start with your cannabis marketing strategy, look no further. This guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to grow your business!  Marketing your cannabis business is tricky at best.  Despite being legal in 33 states and Washington, D.C., it is still prohibited by the federal government.  Therefore, cannabis advertising is riddled with strict regulations. For one thing, you can’t advertise on national media platforms like YouTube, Facebook or Google.  Those companies don’t allow advertising for illegal drugs, and marijuana is still illegal under federal law.  Cannabis businesses are also subject to state laws and regulations when it comes to advertising.  For example, some states prohibit any kind of cannabis advertising.  Others have laws against advertising with cartoon characters or in a magazine that has more than 15% of its audience under the age of 21.

 

So how can you market your cannabis business?

  Marketing the right way is essential to your success. And it’s not just about selling the products. It’s also about educating the consumer, building a brand, and gaining loyal customers.  As a cannabis business owner or marketer, you have to look at cannabis marketing a little differently than other industries.  Because of federal laws and regulations, you can’t do what most other businesses do. You can’t advertise on big social media channels like Facebook or Google Ads. You can’t promote your products on billboards or radio ads without fear of running afoul of local laws and regulations.   And yet it’s not impossible to run a successful cannabis business. In fact, cannabis has been declared one of the fastest-growing industries in America (even with these restrictions in place). But you have to get creative and learn how to market your business within these restrictions. With so much new information coming out about the benefits of medical marijuana and cannabis, there is a huge market that is looking for brands to develop around it. If you want to build your brand on the new wave of marijuana, you need to have an online presence that will help you reach the people who are looking for brands like yours.  

Your cannabis marketing business should have an online presence that includes:

  A clean and easy-to-use website with all the necessary information about your product – The best websites all have one thing in common – a logical layout that allows users to find what they’re looking for easily and quickly. They also have enough information available online to make it simple for people to understand what they need and how they can use it properly. Having a well-designed website will make it easy for potential customers to get all the information they need upfront. It will also help them feel confident when making their choice.  A clean and up-to-date Google My Business (GMB) listing.  Having a Google My Business listing is important for every business, no matter how small. With this free tool, you can digitally promote your business and make it easier for customers to find you.  If you need help with optimizing your GMB, Spark Factory can help.   But what if I don’t have a physical location?   Even if your business is entirely online, having a Google My Business listing is still beneficial. When someone searches for your business in the Google Maps app, for example, they’ll not only see your name and address, but also hours of operation, customer reviews, and more. The more information you provide about your business on your listing, the easier it will be for customers to find you.   The benefits of having a Google My Business listing are numerous:  
  • With a verified GMB listing, you can appear in search results when people search for businesses like yours near their current location.
  • You can share updates about your products or services right through GMB so potential customers can see what’s new with your business.
  • Customers can leave reviews on your GMB listing to help other people choose whether they want to do business with you or not.
  • You will also need a stellar website that has been optimized for SEO and user experience.  In the world of cannabis marketing, you can have the best website in the world, but if there’s no relevant content on it, you won’t get very far.
  • No matter how beautiful your site is or how perfect your SEO is (more on that later), if there are no relevant articles to read or products to purchase, you aren’t going to see any return on your investment.
  • People love reading about cannabis. The search volume for keywords like “how long does a high last” and “best marijuana strains for sleep” is off the charts. Because of this, many cannabis-related websites make a huge mistake by not offering any content beyond their products and services.
  Properly maintaining your reviews is another key to achieving success.   Think about the last time you were looking for a new restaurant or coffee shop. You probably did what most people do these days, and pulled out your phone to Google it. The first result you saw was a map of local places and their corresponding star ratings, which immediately influenced your decision about where to go.   When it comes to online reviews, Amazon may have the lion’s share, but Google is still a major player. In fact, according to recent studies, Google reviews are considered more important than any other review source for local businesses, including Yelp, Angie’s List, and TripAdvisor.  If this is an issue for your business, Spark Factory can help with reviews management.   Start Local!  Know the laws in your state and municipalities and be sure to stay within those boundaries.  Find Law has a very comprehensive database when it comes to marijuana laws.  Once you have your legal ducks in a row, you’re ready to start marketing! If you’re looking to get started in the cannabis industry, start small by targeting local customers. You can spread the word about your business through word-of-mouth marketing, social media, flyers and other forms of advertising.  Local SEO from Spark Factory is important because it’s the fastest way to get your cannabis business found online. Letting people know who you are and what you do is a critical first step in any marketing plan. The internet has completely disrupted the traditional “get a phone book and look for something” model, replacing it with its own dynamic and ever-changing world of search engines, social media platforms, local directories, review sites, and more.  As a cannabis business owner, figuring out how to get your business listed in all those places can be the biggest cannabis marketing challenge you’ll face, (which is likely why you are reading this article) Know Your Audience!  There are plenty of different target audiences when it comes to marketing marijuana products including medical users, recreational users and cannabis tourists who come from out of state just to buy marijuana products. You can figure out which audience is most interested in your product by looking at local demographics or talking directly with potential customers.  

Attend industry events

  I have always been an advocate for the importance of attending industry events. When I first started my own company, I attended as many conferences, seminars and meetups as possible. Through those experiences over the years, I have gained important knowledge about the industry and learned tips on how to improve and grow my business.  Attending industry events can help you network with other professionals, learn from others’ successes and failures, and educate yourself on what’s going on in your area of specialization. Here are some reasons why it’s important to attend industry events if you’re in the cannabis business.   Network with other professionals in your area. Networking is one of the most beneficial things you can do at an event; it gives you a chance to meet others in your industry who can help you grow your business or even become potential customers of yours. Your network is one of the most valuable assets to have. The more people you can connect with, the better off you will be for finding vendors, investors or even employees for your business.   Learn from others’ successes and failures. Not only will you be able to meet people who might become customers or clients, but these events are a great way to learn from others in your industry. These professionals have been there before and know a thing.  Cannabis is a relatively new industry, and it’s one that’s always changing. This means that brands have an opportunity to stay ahead of the curve by implementing new tools, technologies, and approaches at the right time. A good example of this is content marketing.   Content marketing has revolutionized the way businesses market their products and services, allowing them to reach large audiences without paying for advertisements. Instead, they provide unique value to those audiences in the form of informative articles, blog posts, infographics, videos, and other content.  Content marketing is a great way to get your business to the next level, and Spark Factory  has extensive experience marketing cannabis businesses in this manner.   Overall, cannabis marketing can be a serious challenge compared to marketing other businesses, but with great effort comes great reward.  Cannabis is one of the fastest growing, and most exciting industries in the the world, and all of the evidence suggests the industry will only get bigger.  With that in mind, we strongly encourage all entrepreneurs in this space to take marketing seriously, and make big investments while the industry is still in its infancy.  

What is click fraud?

Click fraud is a serious problem. In fact, up to 40% of all clicks on ads are fraudulent.  And that number is rising!  How does this affect your business? Let’s look at an example.

You’re a small business owner and you work with a digital marketing agency to manage your Google Ads account.  In any given month, you might spend $1,000 on paid search advertising (we’ll use round numbers for simplicity). Your marketing agency reports that you received 3,500 clicks from those ads and 100 leads from those clicks (2.8% conversion rate).

How would a 40% increase in ROI affect your ads?

You’re happy with the results and consider it a successful campaign because you have more than enough leads to meet your sales goals.

Or are you?

After all, 40% of the 3,500 clicks may have been fraudulent. That means 1,400 of them never had any chance of converting into leads or sales. On top of that, if your ad budgets are set up correctly (and they should be) then almost none of those fraudulent clicks should have counted toward your budget anyway.  Right?

Wrong!  In reality, your campaign might have only cost a fraction of your actual ad spend and generated the same amount of leads, but since neither you nor the agency is aware of click fraud, you don’t know that.

How much is click fraud affecting your business?

It’s an important question, but one that can be difficult to answer. Click fraud is a persistent threat for businesses running paid advertising campaigns and it can have a serious impact on your budget if left unchecked.

But how much of your PPC budget is really being taken up by click fraud? You may be surprised to learn just how widespread click fraud is.

How common is click fraud?

Spark Factory’s data suggests that 40% of all clicks are fraudulent and that advertisers lose $4 for every $10 they pay in ad spend as a direct result of fraud. If you’re not already taking steps to protect your business from this kind of fraudulent activity, those figures should make you sit up and take notice.

Imagine getting a $14 value for $10 dollars.

Why does click fraud happen?

Depending on who you ask, there are different reasons why click fraud happens. Some believe that it’s largely accidental — people accidentally clicking on ads while browsing the internet, or clicking multiple times because they’re having trouble loading a page. Others believe that competitors are responsible for most instances of click fraud, trying to destroy their rivals’ online reputations by driving up their advertising costs.  And of course, there are bots set up to click on ads to exhaust your budget and drive up costs.

What is click fraud?

  • The concept of click fraud seems simple enough: someone clicks on an ad with the intent to cause harm. But there are actually two types of fraudulent clicks, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
  • Malicious Deception — which occurs when a competitor tries to drive up the advertiser’s cost per click (CPC).
  • Out of Area – which occurs when traffic comes in from areas that are outside of the predefined geographic boundaries of the campaign.
  • Untrustworthy – which means that the traffic is suspicious.  This could mean it is a bot, VPN traffic, suspicious behavior on site, etc.

How do we prevent click fraud?

Spark Factory’s proprietary fraud prevention software actively monitors campaign activity in real-time, and reports fraudulent activity to Google, which allows us to receive credits for the lost ad spend, which is then rolled over into the next monthly budget.  While we can’t prevent bad actors from acting, we can prevent them from hurting you.  That’s the Spark Factory difference.

How To Install Google Tag Manager on WordPress

When you create your account there are 3 levels inside of Tag Manager:

  1. Account- Think of this as a companywide account
  2. Container- Individual websites
  3. Tags- Individual tags you get from all the other platforms that want your website data

You should be the only one who has access to your account at the company level. If you do anything with clients or collaboration projects there should always be a separate account. If you have subdomains, you should have the same container for that entire domain. Inside of the containers you will have all of your tags.

It is time to set up an account. Google search Tag Manager and once you are on the page click the start for free button. Log in with your Gmail email which can always be changed later if you so choose. When setting up the container, the container name will be your website. From here you want to select web since it is a website and nothing else. Click on create after that. 

From here a tag manager code page will come up. This is the code that goes on your WordPress site. You want to copy the code and paste it onto the header tag and the body tag. You will most likely need to access these codes more than once. Here is the way to get back to the codes. Click on your Tag Manager ID also known as your GTM ID. You may want to save these codes to your internal documentation like a word doc or google doc. You can also download a copy of the Tag Manager playbook. Tag Manager should be on every page of your website. Now that you have the code it is time to put it on every page of your website. When it comes to WordPress you have two options to do this. You can either install it at the theme level or use it as a plugin. Tag manager should be on every page of your website. The downside of using the theme route is if you have any page builder plugins it will not show up. If you have a theme for your blog and then you’re using a page builder plugin for some of your landing pages or other pages it will not show up. The reason being is because it’s being managed by a different plugin. This may be the decision-maker of why you want to use a plugin as opposed to the theme route. If you don’t have any page-building plugins on your website then go ahead and use the theme. 

Theme Install

You will want to go to page options or theme settings. Install Thrive Themes. Inside the WordPress dashboard, you want to click on the Thrive Dashboard and then click on Theme Options. Under options, you will then look for something called Analytics/Scripts. When you click on it you will see a header script, opening body script, and a body script. Thrive Themes is focused on marketers that is why they have an opening body script. If you happen to have a body script but not an opening body script that is fine because Tag Manager will still work. Jump back to Tag Manager and you copy the header tag and body tag. The head tag will be pasted in the header script and the body tag will be pasted into the opening body script or the body. Either or is fine. After you have done this, you will click on save all changes. That is all there is to it when setting up your Tag Manager with your theme.

Plugin Install

On the left side panel, you want to click on plugins and then hit add new. Install Google Tag Manager for WordPress. Once it is installed you can then go to Setting and then Google Tag Manager on the left panel. From there you want to paste in your GTM ID. You will then see that in the Container Code Placement the footer of the page is selected. Selecting this method will not put the code in the right place but the code will work. The reason why they put it in the footer is that they want to make sure no matter what themes or plugins are running on your website Tag Manager will work. Is it the right way to install it? No. Will it still work? Yes. After selecting this you can then click save changes. Now it is time to verify the install. 

Verify Installs

There is a free chrome plugin that makes sure Tag Manager is added correctly. Go to Google then search google tag assistant. Click on the Chrome one that says Tag Assistant (by Google). After this, you want to click the Add to Chrome. When you are adding to Chrome for the first time you will leave everything checked as is. Click done. This will not automatically load. You will then need to go to your website and click on the plugin icon and hit enable. Once you do this it should work. After clicking enable you will then refresh the page. You will then see a red warning sign. The reason you will see this message is because there are no tags in the container. What you have to do is add a tag. Once you have done this then Tag Manager will turn green. You are now good to go. The problem is fixed.

Fix Errors

There are four colors that you need to be aware of when it comes to the errors that might show up. Green means everything is good to go and it’s a standard install. Blue means that it’s working and it’s not a standard install. You don’t have anything to worry about when it comes to these two colors. Yellow means there’s some sort of data collection issue. Red means that the tag is not working. When it comes to the yellow error color it can be a personal issue with your particular browser. It could be blocking some cookies or blocking something from firing. The good thing about any error is that it can be fixed. Many people have run into the same issues. What you want to do is click to see the installation errors. If the error doesn’t make sense to you then you can always search google for that specific error to solve the problem. 

If you need help with any of these steps, reach out to us here at Spark Factory and we will get you set up to conquer digital!

WooCommerce How To: 9 Free Ways to Speed Up Your WooCommerce WordPress Website

  1. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Cloudflare
  2. This is a fast, agile, and secure network to deliver your content to people from servers that are much closer to their physical location. The way Cloudflare works is they cache your content on servers all over the world and they deliver your content from the servers closest to people. There are many benefits to using Cloudflare. Open up Cloudflare.com and sign up for free. From here you will then add your website. Select the free plan and click on continue.
    To set up Cloudflare you will need to review your DNS records. There are 5 A records, 2 CNAME records, 1 MX record, and 3 TXT records. All of these have to be set up properly. After that then you will update your name servers to Cloudflare. Upload it from Bluehost to Cloudflare. If you stay on the same Cloudflare page and scroll down you will see all the DNS records you need for your website. Switch from your Cloudflare tab to Bluehost and on the back end then scroll down. Click on your website.
  3. You will then see to the right of the page DNS Zone Editor. Click on Manage to manage the DNS Zone records. Scroll down to Zone File records and make sure they are all set up properly. These need to all match the same records on your server. Go back and forth between Bluehost and Cloudflare comparing the two to make sure everything matches up. Once you see everything matches up you can then click on continue.
    The next thing you want to do is change the nameservers for your domain. You want to remove the following name servers. You want to go from using the Bluehost name servers to the Cloudflare name servers. Copy the Cloudflare name servers and switch back to Bluehost. From Bluehost go to nameservers and paste it into the Use Custom Nameservers section. Save the settings and then go back to Cloudflare and click done to update the change. It might take 24 hours for the nameservers to fully process. From here you can click get started on the Quick Start Guide page. Make sure everything is turned on and every box is checked then click save and finish. Everything is now set up.
  1. Use a free WordPress Caching Plugin
  2. Go to WordPress and install the caching plugin for Cloudflare. Scroll down and go to plugins on the left side of the screen. Hit add new. Search Cloudflare cache and active the one that says WP Cloudflare Superpage Cache. What you want to do next is scroll down and deactivate the one that says WP Super Cache. You don’t want to have multiple cache plugins because they can interfere with each other. Next, you want to go to settings on the left sidebar. Click on WP Cloudflare Superpage Cache. Enter your Cloudflare’s API key and email. Go back to Cloudflare overview and you should see a note that says great news, Cloudflare is now protecting your site. Scroll down on the right-hand side panel and click on Get your API Token. Hit the API Tokens tab. Scroll down to Global API Key. From there click on view. Enter your password to proceed. Switch back to WordPress and paste the Cloudflare API key then hit update settings. Set your Cloudflare domain name which is your website. Enable Page Caching Now.
  3. Optimize CSS & JS delivery
  4. Go to WordPress and search for then install the Autoptimize plugin. Install and then activate. Keep in mind that you can test out other plugins. Just because it has the best ratings doesn’t mean it will work the best for you. After you have installed the plugin you can click settings to make sure everything is correct. You will want to click on Optimize JavaScript Code. Click on the box to optimize CSS code and the box to optimize HTML code. Keep the options that are already checked and do not click on any other boxes. Now scroll down and click save changes and empty the cache. Spark Factory can also do this for you, along with any of the other steps in thei guide.
  5. Optimize Images
  6. Now you will want to set up Smush. Once you have downloaded the smush dashboard plugin you will want to bring up the dashboard on the left side panel. When you are setting up Smush for the first time it will bring you through the steps. Enable automatically optimizing new downloads, enable strip my image metadata, disable lazy loading, and don’t allow usage data tracking. Click finish setup wizard. Now you have successfully set up Smush.
  7. Optimize WordPress Database
  8. WP-Optimize can do more than just the database. It can help with optimizing your images, CSS, JavaScript, and HTML. You will want to search for and install the WP-Optimize- Clean, Compress, Cache plug in. Once you have done this you want to open the database. Make sure you click remove all expired transient options. From here you will run all selected optimizations. Doing this will make sure your database is as clean as possible and people can easily find your content.
  9. Accelerated Mobile Pages Plugin
  10. Search and download the AMP for WP- Accelerated Mobile Pages plugin.
  11. Enable Text Compression
  12. To do this you will need to add a code to the .htaccess file on the server. Go to wpbuffs.com then select option number one. Enable WordPress GZIP Compression by Manually Editing Your .htaccess file. Click back into your Bluehost tab and scroll down to find file manager. Usually, any host has this. Find something that says public HTML. Click on settings and then make sure show hidden files is selected. Hit save and then find the .htaccess file. Click on edit and you will see the keyboard shortcuts. On line 16 you will see End WordPress. You want to then copy the .htaccess code from the wpbuffs.com page and paste it right under End WordPress. Next, you want to save your changes.
  13. Use the latest PHP version
  14. If you’re not a hundred percent sure if you’re using the latest PHP version it varies for every single host based on the type of hosting plan you have. What you can do to make sure you have the right version is just contact your host directly. Contact customer service and make sure you’re using the latest PHP version. Your host should automatically update you to the latest PHP version. The latest PHP version is a little bit faster and more secure than the previous versions.
  15. Delete Unused Plugins and Themes
  16. Anything that you are not using or plan on using soon should be deleted. Not only will it be a security risk it can also slow down your website. This also applies to themes. You only really need the theme that you are using. If you are switching back between a couple of different themes you do want to make sure that they are up to date. Having extra themes take up more space on your server so it is best to get rid of them.
    The last thing you want to do is go through some page speed tools. Google page speed insights and gtmetrix.com are some good choices for doing this. Enter your URL guide for both of them on page speed insights you will then click analyze and on Gtmetrix you will click test your site. Depending on your website it will take about 30 seconds to complete. From here you can see where you rank by score for both mobile and desktop. The 90-100 range is where you want to be. 80 and above is good too. ON the google page speed insights you will see a section called opportunities. This gives you suggestions that can make your page load faster. On Gtmetrix you can always re-test your site because sometimes it’s a little slow on the first test that they do. Gtmetrix will also have a section where it tells you your top issues impacting your performance. The impacts will be listed off from high to low impact.

Top Speed Optimization Plugins Used by WordPress Speed Optimization Service Providers

What Plug-Ins can I expect from a WordPress Speed Optimization Service?

Today, we are here to spill some secrets to help you get rid of your old, slow website. Through the plugins that we will inform you about, you can easily reach the desired website speed. With that done, you will start getting all the good stuff: traffic, conversions, sales, and revenue. 

So, without much further ado, let’s get to the meat of the matter. Here are the top 8 WordPress plugins that you should capitalize on. 

WP Rocket

This is the WordPress performance plugin that can be used for a laundry list of purposes. It is a caching plugin that will help you significantly decrease the loading time of your website—users love shorter loading times and thus, prefer engaging more with faster websites. So, if you want to have a happy audience, get a quicker website through WP Rocket. The plugin has a user-friendly interface and automatically implements page caching, browser caching, and Gzip compression. 

WP Fastest Cache

WP Fastest Cache is another useful plugin that can increase the speed of your website. With the cache system, your web pages will not require rendering again and again. This is because the plugin will create a static HTML file of your pages. So, when your user revisits your website, it will load faster as it will not require rendering from scratch. In the free version of this plugin, you will receive features such as minify HTML, minify CSS, and browser caching. Though this is enough to speed up your website, you can further boost the speed by using the premium version, including database optimization, image optimization, and lazy loading.

WP Super Cache

This plugin works the same way as WP Fastest cache does—it will create static copies of your WordPress website to load it faster. The best part is that it is pretty easy to use; even a beginner can use it easily. You have to install it, follow the prompts, and you will be good to go. If you are a techie, advanced user, you can leverage the advanced setting for more control. 

WP-Optimize

WP-Optimize is another all-in-one WordPress plugin that is highly effective for boosting website performance. It will optimize your website by cleaning its database, compressing its images, and caching your site. All these three are the primary ways that all professionals use to boost site speed. Though WP-Optimize started as a database optimization plugin, it has turned into a full-service speed optimization plugin today. 

Lazy Load

Lazy Load is a plugin by WP Rocket that boosts the performance of your website through lazy loading. This plugin defers the loading of non-critical resources or below-the-fold assets. Instead, only the critical elements of your page are loaded, while the non-critical ones are only loaded when needed. With Lazy Load, you can delay the loading of images, iframes, and YouTube videos. High-quality images and videos massively bump up the load time, but as this plugin defers them, pages load much faster. 

Perfmatters

Perfmatters is a lightweight performance plugin and can optimize the smaller parts of your WordPress website. It increases the speed of your website by optimizing your database, reducing HTTPS requests, stripping out code, and disabling plugins. To use Perfmatters, you do not have to be tech-savvy at all. It has a simple dashboard that makes it accessible to both beginners and advanced users. Pro tip: pair it with a caching plugin to get the best results. 

W3 Asset Cache

Yet another useful and free WordPress plugin, W3 Asset Cache can help increase the SEO rank of your website and improve its performance tenfold once you have fully configured it. The plugin leverages many latest performance practices, including content delivery network (CDN). That said, try to stay away from this plugin if you are a non-techie newbie. This plugin is best suited for developers who know the A-Z of caching and website performance. 

Asset CleanUp

This plugin works just like Perfmatters—it loads or unloads scripts as per the requirement. It will scan your page and detect the assets that are loaded. It allows you to select the CSS/JS assets that are not necessary to load. The main features include:

Minification.

Preloading of necessary files.

  • Google fonts optimization.
  • Removal of emojis and Dashicons.

Pair it with a cache plugin to further boost your website speed. 

There you have it! These are the most-used plugins that common WordPress speed optimization service providers leverage. You can think about installing some of them on your website, and we bet you will see the results in no time!

Site Speed Killers Bugging You? WordPress Speed Optimization Service To The Rescue

With the help of a WordPress speed optimization service, you can boost the speed performance of your website. And as every webmaster and online marketer knows, fast and intuitive websites can improve user experience, which is imperative to carve out a business’s online presence today. Internet users like responsive websites because they offer posthaste answers to their questions. This makes them more likely to convert into your patrons. 

If a fast website can support your online success, a slow website can kill it. Sluggish websites annoy the users, making them more likely to abandon your site and move to other websites. If you have a slow website, get ready to face torpid conversations, high bounce rates, and diminished cash flow. The quickest fix for a slow WordPress site is to use a WordPress speed optimization service.

In this blog, we will go over six common mistakes that can make your website slower. Without any further ado, let’s dive in. 

Uploading High-Quality Images

Many beginner website builders upload high-quality images to boost the look of their websites. Little do they know that this can make their website slower. High-quality images make your website heavier, which adds to its loading time. You have to prioritize site speed over image quality because if the users cannot open your site, how would they look at your visually appealing images in the first place? Ergo, make it a point to optimize the images on your site.

Missing Cache Plugins

Cache plugins help create a static version of your web pages and content, which the browsers can render swiftly. As a result, your website loads faster the next time your users visit it. These plugins boost the performance of your website and help it rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs). A speedy website also enhances the overall user experience. WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache, and WP Fastest Cache are some popular cache plugins for WordPress websites that you can consider. 

Using Free Themes and Plugins

If you have been using free themes or plugins developed by a third party, your website performance will probably be a lot slower than you would like. Why? Because such themes and plugins may have numerous redundant codes running in the background. These codes can impact the speed of your website. So, while you are trying to save money using free themes and plugins, you lose even more as your users are not converting because of a sluggish site. To circumvent this problem, only get plugins and themes from a trustworthy and credible developer. 

Using Too Many Plugins and Widgets

Plugins and widgets do make your website more functional. That being said, there is a fine line between using enough plugins and packing your website with them. If you cross the line and drown your website with plugins and widgets just for the sake of functionality, then your website will become slow. Remember that adding even a tiny widget can increase your load time by 2 seconds, which is a lot! So, stick to only a few important ones, and you will be good to go. 

Using Cheap Web Hosting Service

Want to know the secret behind your inexpensive hosting plan? Well, your web host is just using one server to host hundreds, if not thousands, of websites. While this does save you some money, this also means that you have a sluggish website just because a single server is hosting so many websites. The sad part is that you are not gaining any profit despite saving money on your hosting service. Why? Because the loss of revenue due to your slow website is far more than the money you are saving. 

Not Using Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDNs are a group of servers that are distributed all across the globe. They work together to deliver Internet content faster. They boost the speed of asset transfer, such as HTML pages, images, videos, and javascript files. Due to this, websites load more quickly. Consider this: if you are operating from New York and your server is in Singapore, every time a request for a web page is made, it has to travel from Singapore to New York. However, if the server in Singapore is using a CDN located in the US, things become so much faster. 

So there you have it: these are the six most common mistakes that people commit, which reduces the speed of their websites. If you want to steer clear of these mistakes, leverage professional WordPress speed optimization services. An experienced professional will optimize your WP website to make it faster and more user-friendly. 

WordPress Speed Optimization Service: Optimizing Theme To Boost Performance

The WordPress simplistic default theme is quite dull and less appealing. Therefore, people install various themes to boost the visual appearance of their website. You must know what these themes are if you own a WordPress website. Regardless of how unique your website looks with these themes, WordPress speed optimization service providers like Spark Factory and Search Engine Journal reveal that they can be the hidden cause behind your slow website. 

Is Your WordPress Theme Ruining Your Website Performance? 

If you want a fast website that drives organic traffic, you will have to carefully install the themes and not get tricked by their appearance. There are many ways you can check whether or not your theme is worthy of being installed and is unlikely to cause any problems in the future. 

Check for the update. You should only install a WP theme that has been updated recently. Outdated themes will only make your website slower. 

Look at the reviews as they will reveal if someone has experienced speed issues with the theme. You can even contact the developer to ask whether the theme will cause issues or not and if it was developed, keeping site speed in mind. 

Additionally, try to run the demo on both desktop and mobile devices. This will tell you about the responsiveness of the theme. It should load fast on both devices. 

Run your website in a seed testing tool, such as Google Page Speed Insights, to check if your current theme is free from problems. If the results of the speed test reveal major problems, you should consider using a WordPress speed optimization service.

Here’s How You Can Optimize Your WordPress Theme

If you want to steer clear of slower website, then this is what you can do to improve and optimize the WordPress theme:

Simplify

When it comes to WordPress themes, less is more. The fewer the elements on your page, the faster it will load. A web page with fewer page elements will have improved loading time and be clear, crisp, and organized look-wise. This will boost the user experience and give you a leg up in search rankings. So, simplify your CSS files to save on stylesheet size. Further, get rid of those carousels; they load countless heavy images that kill your speed. Instead, stick to a single optimized image for better speed and usability. 

Minify

To minify and make your website faster, focus on your CSS and Javascript files. You can remove the extra information, such as whitespace, comments, and additional characters. You can even combine individual files that usually load individually to boost your site performance. Combining these asset files will reduce the number of requests the browser has to make, thus, improving loading time.

Image optimization

Surprisingly, the high-quality images that you stuff your website with are the most common site speed killers. To prevent images from increasing your loading time, compress them so you can save bandwidth. Additionally, you can optimize the image size using software like Adobe Photoshop. This will drastically improve your site speed. 

Lazy Loading

Lazy loading simply refers to deferring the loading of non-critical files, such as images, to improve the loading time of critical files. The non-critical files will only load when they are needed. When files are delayed from loading as the user visits the page, the speed of the page is automatically improved. If you think there is a lot of content on your website that your visitors will not need to load, you can use WordPress plugins like Lazy Load to refrain it from loading. 

Home Page Optimization

If there is any page that you should be paying attention to, it is your home page. You should aim to make your home page load as quickly as possible as this is what they first access before exploring other web pages of your website. You can optimize your home page by reducing content, limiting the articles, eliminating inactive plugins, and removing social media widgets. In other words, make your home page clutter-free and keep only the most critical information around to make every page on your website snappy. 

Monitoring Plugins

Any WordPress site owner knows how crucial plugins are. They massively improve the functionality of a website. However, they can also increase the loading time of your website. If you use a lot of plugins, you could be testing the patience of your visitors. So, the key is to use plugins moderately. Remove unnecessary plugins to have a highly optimized WordPress theme. 

Once you are through all these steps, you will have a well-optimized theme that will load much faster. And if you are not ready to take the pain of optimizing the theme on your own, you surely have WordPress speed optimization services to fall back on! 

WordPress Speed Optimization Service: Because Your Website Speed Matters

You might have come across many digital marketing agencies that offer a WordPress speed optimization service. Did it make you wonder why a website even requires speed-boosting? Since when did speed become one of the most critical elements of a successful website? 

Your website speed matters. There are no two ways about it. Let us probe into the whys and hows. 

What is site speed, after all?

Before we look into why speed matters, it is essential that you know what exactly we mean when we say the word “speed” in relation to your WordPress website. Simply put, your website speed refers to how fast a browser can load all the web pages of your site. According to Google, site speed signifies the time it takes for your users to view and interact with your website’s content. And what professional WordPress speed optimization services do is decrease this “time” to make your website load faster. 

The importance of site speed

Now, let us come to the meat of the matter: why should your website have a faster speed, and how does it impact your business? 

Conversion Rate

The speed of your website has a tangible impact on your conversion rates. If you have a slower website, your target audience will not take the action you want them to, such as buying your products or services.  

It is common knowledge that no user likes to wait for a website to load; longer loading time makes them more likely to bounce to another website, perhaps to your competitor’s. If your potential customer does not wait for your website to load, it is obvious that your intended sales message failed to reach them. This means they are not going to be inquiring about your product or service offering any time soon, which is bad for business. 

The opposite is also true: faster websites will receive positive responses from the users. Your customers will convert smoothly if you have a reduced page load time.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate indicates the percentage of users that leave your website after viewing only one web page. It indicates that the user did not find the information they were looking for on the web page or did not know how to find it. Of course, higher bounce rates are not ideal if you want to reach your business goals. However, higher bounce rates become inevitable with slower websites. 

You will be surprised to know how big of a difference even a second can make when it comes to your website’s loading time. According to Pingdom AB, a Swedish website monitoring SaaS company, the bounce rates can skyrocket to 38% when your website loads in 5 seconds. Whereas, it is only 9% if your website loads in 2 seconds—yes, even 3 seconds cannot be underestimated. (Source: Does Page Load Time Really Affect Bounce Rate? – pingdom.com

Search Engine Ranking

Website speed has become one of the primary ranking factors of Google. Understanding that speed directly impacts the user experience and endeavoring to enhance the same, the search giant has taken this step. The Google crawlers assess your website and its speed before ranking it on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). When Google gets a report that your website is slow and delivers a poor user experience, it will not bother ranking you anywhere. If that happens, you can say goodbye to any traffic and conversions. No wonder businesses are constantly leveraging the WordPress speed optimization service to boost their website speed. 

What does the WordPress speed optimization service include? 

The speed optimization service package includes the following components:

Image Compression: These services help the websites improve their site speed by compressing the images. Why is that important? Because high-quality images are one of the key reasons behind longer loading times and slower websites.  

Caching: Browsers temporarily store a website’s file so that you can access them quickly when you revisit the website. The stored files can include anything from HTML files and JavaScript to heavy images. When you install and configure caching plugins, such as WP Super Cache, you can significantly increase the speed of your website. 

Handling slow plugin: While plugins are used to improve the functionality of websites, they can also be the reason behind slow websites. When you get your site’s speed optimized by a professional, they will expose and remove the plugins that are slowing down your website. 

If you want to save yourself from the negative consequences of a slow website, then you should consider capitalizing on professional WordPress speed optimization services. This will help lower the loading time of your website and enable you to reach your business goals faster. If the aforementioned solutions don’t fix your speed issues, it is possible you could need a full redesign or migration to faster servers. Give Spark Factory a call if you are in need of these services.

How to Choose a Virginia SEO Company

Owning a business is more challenging nowadays.  Along with the many things to consider and focus on, choosing the best Virginia SEO company that will work for your branding is another vital component to think about. There will be a significant consequence not just in your bank account, but also for the business.

With the right SEO partner, any business sector can experience an increase in sales while decreasing their marketing and advertising budget, all with a guaranteed user experience.

Benefits of Hiring a Virginia SEO Company

Any company can make or break their organization depending on the kind of SEO agency they chose to handle their branding. An SEO agency with the right tools, intentions, and objectives can surely provide numerous firm benefits that will lead to becoming dominant in all search engine results pages (SERP) everywhere. When you hire the right SEO team, you will surely have:

More time to focus on other business matters- The goal to rank higher in SERPs is a very challenging task, and require lots of time and focus on achieving it. If the SEO agency has the same aspirations for your business, you can confidently leave that mission to them and use your energy and resources in other business matters.

A well-developed website with the best user experience- The right Virginia SEO company will look into every aspect of the business branding, networks, and platforms to ensure that it can compete and even stand out, especially against your competitors. With their expertise in analysis, effective SEO agencies can quickly identify what needs to be done and improve the website to become one of the best reputable sites in the industry.

Improved rankings on search engines like Yahoo, Google, and Bing- The right Virginia SEO company will stay on its commitment to make your website the best place your potential audience will ever find. This dedication will result in being the most in-demand and most-searched brand in the digital world.

Along with these perks, SEO agencies are not just reliable in search engine rankings alone. They are also the most credible persons in other digital and marketing components like content creation, social media management, email marketing campaigns, payper-click campaigns, and many more.

Top Mistakes in Choosing a Virginia SEO Agency

Unfortunately, most of the companies are getting failed results when it comes to attaining their SEO goals because of the wrong decisions and choices of SEO firms to handle them. Some of these mistakes include the following:

Falling for glamorous SEO presentations- Some companies decide to pick a particular SEO team because of how they presented themselves. Though there is nothing on that, relying on these presentations should not be the only reason. Every component of SEO is very delicate to handle, and one mistake can lead to the failure of the brand and the business as well.

Choosing a cheaper SEO agency- As much as we hate paying higher rates, you get what you pay for. More affordable prices usually mean less satisfying results.

Failure to do research- It is our responsibility as customers to check the background information of the team that will handle tasks for us. With the advancements we have around, there is no excuse for failing to conduct our research.

How to Choose a Reliable Virginia SEO Agency

To help your company find a dependable SEO agency, consider doing the five tips below:

Identify your SEO Goals.

Before looking for the right SEO team to handle your brand, you must first determine what aspect of your online presence needs improvement.  You can get a digital marketing analysis to get you started if you do not have any idea. Some agencies can help identify the data you needed to confirm the areas for improvement.

Look for an SEO firm that will track your data.

In decision-making for the business, the gut or intuition shouldn’t be the deciding factor. An SEO firm that can handle tracking and measuring the data is vital. This action includes site visits, click-through rates, time on site, and submitting forms. It is always important to make decisions based on real-time situations and results.

Research and get SEO case studies, company reviews, and testimonials.

Nowadays, getting company reviews even for SEO companies is very easy. Checking the company website and reading their former clients’ testimonials and feedback are good deciding factors for choosing the right SEO firm for you. You can also check them through search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Moreover, you can request a case study from your preferred Virginia SEO company. Case studies can help you know more details about an SEO company, especially their capabilities and specializations. Not satisfied and looking for more? You can contact them and ask for a reference. A credible agency is confident enough in sending a current or former client and let them discuss their experiences and satisfaction level with the SEO firm.

Schedule a consultation appointment.

Nothing is better than meeting the company personally and discussing your company branding.  They can pull up research about your venture and how they can help based on the experiences they’ve had with their previous clients. This personal appointment is a chance for you to discern their professionalism and level of passion and creativity.

Aside from the opportunity to initially handle your company’s digital status, this can be an excellent time to determine if they can be trusted, and your company can have a better rapport with them. Assess how they discuss matters with you, whether they sound overselling or passionate about doing their job and helping your company. This step is also a perfect chance to ask them more specific questions.

Define and determine your budget for the SEO project.

Another vital thing to remember before finalizing the SEO agency that will work for your project is determining how much you can spend to pay for your brand’s SEO. During the initial consultation, you can ask about their package rates and determine if their prices are still in your budget range. Most Virginia SEO companies have monthly package options you can check out. Regardless, remember always to review your goals, which should be the main priority in choosing their package rates.

Things to Ask Any SEO Agency Before Hiring Them

Besides the aforementioned tips, ask these additional questions:

  • What is included in the contract?
  • What are the cancellation terms and processes?
  • How often will we communicate?
  • Do I have full access to the Analytics/AdWords accounts and websites?
  • Will I own my website?
  • What is the guaranteed performance you can provide?
  • What will be the fees and payment options?
  • What are the available contracts and budget options?
  • Have you worked with a company in my industry?

How to Leverage Ecommerce Customer Reviews To Drive Conversions

Do you know your ecommerce website’s conversion rate? You absolutely should. It’s the number that you live and die by. It is the measure of your business’ success. Not only do you have to know your conversion rate, but you have to be continually taking steps to improve it. The average conversion rate for an ecommerce website is 2.86%. That means for every 100 people who visit your site, fewer than three are buying anything. So how can you improve that number? One of the best ways to drive up your ecommerce conversion rate is to let your current customers speak for you. We’re talking, of course, about customer reviews. The new “word of mouth” marketing. Nearly 95% of online shoppers read reviews before making a purchase. On top of that, 72% of customers won’t take any action until they’ve seen a review. That makes reviews hugely crucial to your future success. But all the reviews in the world won’t matter if you don’t know what to do with them. You have to be able to leverage your reviews (both positive and negative) if you want to use them to improve your conversion rate. In this article, we’ll show you how your ecommerce site can leverage customer reviews to drive conversions and grow your business.

Use Customer Reviews to Manage Uncertainty

Every new customer that comes across your business is going to do so with a bit of trepidation. It’s natural when dealing with a company you know nothing about and have no experience with. Customers approach new businesses warily. Brand loyalty must be earned, and until they get a sense of what you’re all about, they’re not going to commit to repeat business.

Why Do You Need Repeat Business?

Customer retention is vital to your continued success, so you want to impress your first-time customers and keep them coming back for years to come. (Image Source) That’s because repeat customers generate more money than new customers. In fact, it can be up to seven times more expensive to onboard a new customer than it is to retain your existing ones. That’s not to say that you should gather a group of loyal customers and rest on your laurels. Customer acquisition is always needed, but it is cheaper by far to retain customers than it is to find new ones.

How Do Reviews Manage Uncertainty?

How can you ease their concerns? Through customer reviews. Reviews help manage that initial uncertainty because they show that your products are enjoyed by others. Beyond that, they show the prospect that your product is appreciated by other customers who have the same pain points that they do. A customer comes to you for one reason. They have a pain point they need to be alleviated. If they can see that other people with these same issues came to your business and found a satisfactory solution, they’re liable to be more at ease. You should have both text and video reviews. That’s because video content is more easily consumed and appeals to a modern audience. (Image Source) When you include quality reviews, this gnawing uncertainty that plagues all new customers is managed through a psychological phenomenon known as the bandwagon effect. The bandwagon effect states that people do something primarily because other people are doing it. This even supersedes their own beliefs, which they may ignore. It’s also an instance of social proof, where customers copy the actions of other customers because they want to duplicate specific results or behaviors. Here’s an example of how this might work:
  1. A person needs to find a new pair of running shoes, but they don’t have a huge budget.
  2. They find your site, but they are wary because discount running shoes might be made cheaply.
  3. They can read reviews on your site from people in their demographic who have purchased your shoes.
  4. These reviews assure the new customer that this is a quality product that holds up under stress.
  5. To make things even more accessible, your reviews are organized into segments within your target audience, which means that this casual runner can find the right product and the right reviews. In contrast, distance runners would be able to find what they need quickly.

How Can You Set Up Your Reviews to Manage Uncertainty?

Now that you know how reviews manage uncertainty, what can you do to ensure that they have the maximum impact on your prospective customers? There are a few ways to do that:
  • Make sure that you prominently display your reviews on the site
  • Reviews should be easily accessible, featured on product pages, the home page, and their own dedicated page.
  • Show off your best reviews on social media, especially any video reviews that can be easily shared.
  • Make sure that you have comment sections enabled on all of your product pages so that customers can easily leave reviews.
  • Prominently display the review scores of every item, similar to how Amazon displays star ratings.

List Reviews On Landing Pages

Landing pages can be a perfect place to include customer reviews that will, in turn, drive conversions. As an ecommerce business, you’re going to need useful landing pages for several reasons, including:
  • They can help you measure the success of a marketing strategy.
  • They are an excellent resource for customers looking to get more information on your company and products.

How Do Reviews On Landing Pages Drive Conversions?

When you include a review (or more) on your landing pages, you’re creating an incentive for potential customers to click through to your web site and convert. We already spoke about how reviews can be the tipping point that manages the uncertainty of your customers. When you’re dealing with a landing page, you have a hyper-focused page on a specific product or promotion. A well-placed review can capture the user’s attention and encourage them to click through. It’s a fantastic way to include social proof in your digital marketing strategy. (Image Source) Social proof builds trust in a way that your landing page copy never could on its own. That’s because reviews are messaging on a company website that is not corporate messaging. People won’t believe your marketing copy right away. But reviews are written by people outside your company and carry a lot more weight than the standard corporate spiel. One or two five star reviews should be enough to get people to click to find more information. Let them know they can see more reviews on the website in a call to action. Here’s an example of how sharing reviews on a landing page can help in five simple steps:
  1. A customer trying to lose weight finds a landing page for a keto diet meal replacement shake from your ecommerce store.
  2. You include information on the product, talking about its effectiveness.
  3. You have also included a video review from a customer who lost 80 pounds using your product.
  4. That instance of social proof could be the tipping point that gets the visitor to click through to your site and try your product.
  5. The prospect envisions those results for themselves, imagining how they will feel if and when your testifying customer’s story becomes their own.

Use Negative Reviews to Improve on Products

Of course, not all of your reviews are going to be five stars. Negative reviews aren’t great, but they’re not bad from a conversion standpoint.

How Can Negative Reviews Be Good?

Believe it or not, those one-star reviews that you stress over can actually have a positive impact on your conversion rate. But how? For starters, the presence of negative reviews shows a prospect that you’re not only showcasing the good. Customers expect to see some negative reviews, so a few poor accounts won’t be a deal-breaker, especially if you have a wealth of positive reviews to counteract them. (Image Source) Mixed reviews can actually increase conversions by up to 270%, whereas a list of reviews that are all perfect can be suspicious to customers and feed their uncertainty.

Negative Reviews Are An Opportunity

When you get a negative review, you can’t let it get to you. Negative reviews provide you with an opportunity to improve. It’s great to know everything that your customers love about your company, but it’s equally valuable to learn what they don’t like. Negative reviews can help you learn from what your customers are saying and how you can improve. If there is a weakness in your product, you can adapt. Then, if you comment back to the reviewer and let them know how you’ve addressed their concerns, you’ve shown that customer, and all future customers, that you listen to your audience and all of your buyers have a voice. That goes a long way toward improving brand loyalty. Leverage those negative reviews and improve your products for the future.

Build Trust and Enhance Credibility

Much like a personal relationship, the bond between a company and its customer is built on trust. Trust creates brand loyalty, which in turn, breeds repeat business. Brand loyalty is what keeps customers from jumping ship if one of your competitors suddenly offers a better price. But before a customer can be loyal, they have to find you credible. Reviews can be a significant first step to proving your credibility.

How Can Reviews Make You Credible?

A review is an unbiased opinion expressed by someone who does not work for your company and has no stake in its financial success or failure. Reviews give third-party assurance through user-generated content, stating that your company and products are quality. Positive product reviews (with a few negatives) can show a customer that you’re credible. If they believe that you’re padding your reviews with fake accounts or only showing the positives while hiding the negatives, you’ve lost credibility. Reviews are a proven credibility boost. That’s why businesses like Amazon rely on them so heavily. In fact, 84% of shoppers trust the word of online reviewers the same as if they were receiving a recommendation from someone they personally know. That’s an enormous trust that they’re placing in your satisfied (or dissatisfied) customers. Let’s say you have an ecommerce website that sells moisturizers. A customer is trying to decide on a new brand of moisturizing hand cream to manage their dry skin. The first brand they see has mostly negative reviews. There are reports of burning and itching as a severe side effect. The next brand they look at has only five-star reviews. A lot of them look like they’re written in the same voice, and there’s not one single negative thing reported about the product. Both of these brands lack credibility. Now, they find your site, and you have mostly positive reviews with a smattering of critical feedback in there as well. There are no significant issues, and you’ve responded to criticism publicly, making changes that will help everyone. You’ve been proven credible based on the merit of your reviews alone. That customer is now more likely to buy from you over the other two.

Use Reviews to Better Understand Your Demographic

Reviews can help you learn how to adapt to the wants and needs of your target demographic. You need to understand your target demographic if you want to succeed. That means learning their likes and dislikes equally. (Image Source) This is especially important if you’re not in that demographic yourself. They might have pain points or preferences that you hadn’t thought of. Thankfully, reviews allow business owners to understand customer pain points so that they can better enhance the user experience. Reviews give the customers an unbiased look into your company and your products. Still, they can also give you a chance to learn about your audience by seeing their unfiltered opinions. It’s invaluable market research. If you can learn how to think like your demographic, you can learn how to better market to them.

In Conclusion

By providing your customers with honest reviews, you’re creating an environment where they can let go of uncertainty and relax. You’re fostering trust and building a relationship that can make brand loyal customers. At the same time, you’re gaining valuable information about your demographics and learning through criticism how you can better model your site, your products, and your marketing efforts to the customers who are the most likely to convert. Simply put, leveraging your customer reviews can and will improve your conversion rate, spiking your sales, and strengthening your business.
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