Opportunities Planet http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com Wed, 03 Feb 2016 10:51:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Making Sure Your Emails Grab Your Reader’s Attention http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/email-marketing-2/making-sure-your-emails-grab-your-readers-attention/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/email-marketing-2/making-sure-your-emails-grab-your-readers-attention/#respond Wed, 03 Feb 2016 10:49:44 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=21131

grab your reader’s attention via email

Oh Emails. So old, yet so good!

Just a few decades ago postal services dominated the world and we could only wish for emails, but today, they are on equal footage with chat or a cellphone!

Email is the oldest way of online interaction we use. Although there are a lot of other ways to communicate with your audience (different social media channels, live chat, instant messaging, etc.), over 2.8 billion people use emails as of 2015, which basically makes email the most used communication channel ever (for comparison, Facebook has around 1.5 billion active users).

Given this fact though, there are two sides to the story: email may be the most used communication method in the world, but this also means that people get a ton of different emails every day.

After putting in time and effort creating a killer email, the very last thing you want is have it sit unread in consumer’s inboxes. Here are a few tips to help you deal with that just fine.

All of those tips are also true for your newsletters by the way, although there is a bit more to it.

Think about the reason

Before creating the email, take the time to think about why you are writing that email in the first place, what do you want to accomplish with it? For example if you are introducing a new product and you want consumers to get familiar with it, then the email should exactly reflect that purpose.

Remember all those times that you opened an email and thought “Why on earth am I even receiving this?” That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Make sure consumers know why they receive your emails.

Make it personalized

Every person, especially a consumer, wants to be unique, not a part of an automated system. This is why making your emails personalized is essential. If the email doesn’t contain at least the name of the recipient (nowadays even the name is not enough, try adding some more stuff, like company name, position, occupation, etc.), it’s definitely not going to be noticed, let alone read.

Also keep your email content casual and respectful. Don’t try to impress consumers by referring to them by their surname and complicated, official wording. That won’t work. Keep it conversational, but know your limits, too much personalization can be dreadful, and make sure you sound professional.

“Hi Mr. Jonson,

We are excited to tell you about a poker tournament that will take place in our hotel today at 7:30 PM. As a true poker fan, we invite you to join in the fun with your wife somewhere around 7:15 if you have no plans for today!

Best of luck,

Hotel administration”

This email sounds pretty neat. Nothing out of place and the personal part will definitely be appreciated. Now watch this.

“Hi Mr. Jonson, 42, born in South Carolina May 6, 1978,

We are excited to tell you about a poker tournament that will take place in our hotel at 7:30 PM, just about the time you return from your business meetings generally. As a true poker fan, who knows how to win or lose thousands of dollars in a single night like you did 2 years ago in New York last year, we invite you to join in the fun with your wife somewhere around 7:15 as you have no specific plans for today!

Best of luck,

Hotel administration”

Well, to me this much personalization doesn’t sound fun, which will definitely make Mr. Jonson uncomfortable. This is what you should NOT do.

Keep it short and to the point

This refers to everything in your email, including subject line, preview text and actual email. Medium sized subject lines (40-50 characters) result in higher open rates, which is what you should be aiming for. Emails are meant for quick communication and information transfer, not exactly great for reading 2500 word articles.

Don’t forget about the preview text. It might only be around 50-70 characters long, but it ultimately reflects the whole content of your email in one or two sentences. Also 84 % of users use a preview pane, which makes kind of a huge deal. Invest time into making a succinct preview text and you will notice an instant improvement in your open rates.

Finally, keep the content and formatting of your email nice and clear. Avoid using all capital letter words and exclamation marks, even when you are offering discounts. Shouting about it very loudly isn’t going to convince consumers to buy your product, instead it will probably irritate them.

Test the email by sending it to yourself or a friend a day or two after putting it together. Look at the subject line, preview text, actual content – everything. Does the email look interesting to you? Do you or your friend want to open it? If yes, then you are getting there. If you don’t feel like it, why would consumers even bother then?

If you promise something, make sure you deliver it

This is a very important step to take. If your preview text or subject line promises a 50% discount on the next purchase, you better make sure you deliver the promise to your consumers. Don’t make an email around another subject and shift smoothly to the discount part, start straight with the discount part. If you have anything more to add, better send two different emails.

Lastly, do not trick your consumers. Ever. It will earn you nothing than a bad reputation, unsubscribes or being marked as spam, and there is a good chance that you will lose the trust of that person forever.

Don’t be discouraged if your emails don’t get high open rates right of the bat. If a person didn’t open a few emails, but still didn’t unsubscribe, it means that he or she doesn’t mind getting emails from your company, you just need to find the right content and offer to make him or her curious enough to open them.

By Charles Dearing

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How to Write a Professional Bio for Twitter http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/social-networking/how-to-write-a-professional-bio-for-twitter/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/social-networking/how-to-write-a-professional-bio-for-twitter/#respond Fri, 22 Jan 2016 16:53:30 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=21121

bio on twitter

Twitter leads the list of essential marketing and customer service platforms for businesses and entrepreneurs looking for ways to expand brand, attract customers and open doors to new networking opportunities. But crafting a killer Twitter bio that communicates your expertise and piques curiosity in just 140 characters can be a challenge. Here are a few tips for creating a great bio, along with some examples to inspire you.

Use Niche Related Keywords

Your bio is your introduction to potential followers, and it should position you as an expert in your field or niche. Since you’re targeting a specific audience, make sure your bio is rich in niche related keywords that will help that audience find you. Specific keywords that describe what you do, such as “food blogger,” “blues musician,” “documentary photographer” can help attract others in your field, as well as users looking for your particular skills.

To find effective keywords for your bio, think about what your target audience is searching for. Make a list of the skills you want to be known for and rank them from most to least important. Then rephrase the most important ones as searchable keywords and build your bio around them.

Include a “Value Proposition”

Your bio should clearly tell visitors why they should be following you. Add a clear “value proposition” to answer that question, and make sure that it relates to the keywords you’ve been using. Don’t use your bio for a hard sell of a product or service. Instead, keep it focused on your skills and expertise that can benefit your followers.

Twitter can give you or your company the much-needed publicity, so make sure to give followers something to follow you for.

List Your Achievements

Your professional achievements are a way to clearly demonstrate your value. Share them briefly (remember, you only have 140 characters) but don’t brag or overhype what you’ve done. Include at least one professional description that clearly communicates what you’ve done in a keyword or two.

Focus on actions – what you do, not who you are. As always, the more specific, the better. For example, instead of saying you’re an entrepreneur, say you’ve launched five businesses. When listing your achievements, keep your value proposition in mind. How can your achievements help your followers?

Add Personal Info

Although your Twitter bio is aimed at presenting you in the best professional light, adding a bit of interesting personal information can make you seem human and relatable. Twitter is filled with business-related generic bios, so a word or two about your personal life, likes, dislikes and interests can help you stand out and attract like minded followers.

Personal information should be reserved for the end of the bio, after you’ve wowed visitors with your professional achievements and value. If you’d rather not get too specific about your personal life, you might instead add a brief statement about your philosophy or beliefs. Make sure that the personal information you share supports, and doesn’t undermine, the professional identity you’re creating.

Be Amusing and Humorous

Since one purpose of your bio is to intrigue visitors and turn them into followers, add a dash of humor or wit. Appearing professional, authentic and cool in just 140 characters may seem like a tall order, but all you might need is one word or phrase that is unexpected or unusual (or at least not boring). That word/phrase should fit well with the other parts of your bio and the persona you’re trying to present.

Avoid Buzzwords and Clichés

Your bio should reflect your unique identity, so steer clear of clichés and empty buzzwords such as guru, ninja or aficionado. Avoid filling space with quotations from famous people, song lyrics, sayings or proverbs. Use the first person “I” to talk about yourself – it makes you sound like a real person speaking to other real people. Though press kits and other kinds of official bios use the third person “he/she”, such phrasing will make you sound distant and even pompous.

Pay Attention to the Form

Like any other piece of writing, your bio represents you. Make sure spelling, grammar and punctuation are perfect, and be consistent with whatever style you choose. Capitalize consistently and proofread carefully. Mistakes stand out clearly in such a small space.

Use Hashtags, @s, and Links

You’re crafting your bio for Twitter, so make use of its tools. Include links to other accounts that relate to your professional identity. Name your company or employer, too. You’ll appear in search results when users search for the company name. Hashtags are also a good way to target specific searches, but too many can be distracting, so use them sparingly.

If you are a business owner, you may want to include a link that your existent or would-be customers will benefit from – for example, you can provide a link to your content-rich website. Everyone knows how important it is to keep customers engaged at all times, and it can all start with a purposefully positioned link in your Twitter bio.

Update and Revisit Your Bio Often

Your bio isn’t static. As you add new achievements and skills to your resume, edit your Twitter bio accordingly. Revisit your goals, too, and make changes that reflect what you want to accomplish on Twitter and why people should follow you.

Get Inspired

The best way to build a great bio is to learn from others. Visit the profiles of people with lots of followers and see what strategies you can adopt. Think about people you follow, too. What features of their bios intrigued you and made you want to follow them?

Here’s a quick look at some great Twitter bios.

tom hanks twitter profile

American actor Tom Hanks’ bio reads just as he speaks – dryly witty and brief.

Mike Davidson twitter profile

Mike Davidson, who’s Twitter’s very own Vice President of Design, follows his title with an unusual and memorable observation.

Julie Rosien twitter profile

Blogger Julie Rosien packs her bio with short, punchy keywords in an upbeat tone.

Alexandra Skey twitter profile

Entrepreneur Alexandra Skey covers all the essentials: keywords, organization she works for, a list of achievements, and a look at her personal interests.

Your online reputation is defined by your social media profiles. Your Twitter bio serves as your “elevator speech” to attract followers, showcase your expertise and reveal your authentic self. Your bio doesn’t have to include every element we’ve discussed. However, building your bio with these points in mind can help you stand out in your niche and grow your following, all in just 140 characters.

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Mobile Marketing: Why You Can No Longer Do Without It http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/business/mobile-marketing-why-you-can-no-longer-do-without-it/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/business/mobile-marketing-why-you-can-no-longer-do-without-it/#comments Wed, 02 Dec 2015 18:30:35 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=21099

Do you know why companies, which invested most of their marketing funds yet again this year in traditional media advertising and little or nothing on mobile, have missed a great opportunity? It’s simple: while they are still focused on traditional ways, consumers are heading in the opposite direction.

consumers opposite direction

According to data released by Flurry, the world population that uses mobile devices increased by 38% this year with 280 million Mobile Addicts, that is to say people who use apps more than 60 times a day, with an increase of 59% compared to the previous year. Super Users, who use apps from 16 to 60 times a day, are 590 million, with an increase of 34%, while Regular Users, those who access the app from one to 16 times a day, increased by 25%, for a total of 985 million people.

mobile apps use

What do people look at when they are on mobile? Basically everything. 75% of emails, 60% of Facebook posts and 90% of tweets are displayed via smartphone or tablet (source: Business Insider). Disregarding these data and the presence of mobile in the daily lives of people means giving up being with them every time they connect.

Up until a few years ago, when there were still so many technological variables to take into account and fewer mobile users, the absence of some companies on mobile was justified. But in 2015 saying “Our customers don’t use smartphones anyway!” cannot be an excuse anymore: by 2020, 70% of the world population will have a mobile device (source: Ericsson Mobility Report). Certainly, among them are consumers of all brands, whether big or small, global or local.

mobile users on 2020

Mobile marketing is not only important due to the number of users!

People’s behaviors and expectations towards mobile have taken on special features which are unprecedented compared to traditional channels of communication. In order to understand why mobile marketing is beneficial and strategic, you have to find out what new consumers want, applying the “what-when-where-how” mobile mix.

#1 What – a personalized experience

Smartphones and tablets are one-to-one devices, so people expect personalized communications that reflect their habits: some are social, some prefer websites, others download apps and some surf using browsers, some people love receiving offers and then there are those who perceive them as an intrusion. Segmenting the target until reaching the desires of the individual is not an easy task but you must try: companies who knock at their client’s door (through an email optimized for mobile, push notification or other) to offer them their favorite chocolates during tea time have already found the way into their hearts.

be in the heart of the customers

#2 When – the importance of instant value

People appreciate it when the brand is in sync with their daily lives and they willingly respond to promotions that have contextualized benefits for them. Coupons sent to customers’ mobile phones while they are in the store or an offer of free tickets in exchange for a film review that they have just seen are simple but effective ways to seize the moment and turn it into a business. A particular case? A yogurt chain in New York, 16Handles, have implemented a very original campaign of time coupons: customers inside the yogurt shop could send a picture to the official Snapchat account of the brand to receive a discount coupon that was only valid if scanned at the cashier’s desk within 10 seconds.

# 3 Where – proximity strategy

Search engines are the most visited sites on mobile. People often seek information about local activities and this is a great opportunity for smaller companies as well; an interesting data shows how in 70% of the cases, research is turned into action, from direct contact with the company to visiting the site or pages on social networks.

Some brands have already known for some time the effectiveness of proximity: let’s take for example the marketing campaign carried out in the UK by L’Oreal to promote INOA, the new line of hair color. Clients could find the nearest salon through apps and GPS and once they were there, they could capture colorful bubbles with an augmented reality game and win a special pack that could be picked up in the salon. The redemption of this operation was 20% against 8% of the previous campaigns, made with traditional media.

the effectiveness of proximity

# 4 How – the integrated path

Shopping experience is increasingly mobile and integrated between online and in-store. People use smartphones not only to make purchases on various e-commerce, but also in the store to look for more information about products, compare prices with the competitors, and visit websites and social pages of the brand. But it is also a multi-platform experience, where both PCs and mobile devices are used in the purchase path in 57% of the cases (source: ComScore).

People expect to find the brand on all channels, that’s why you must be present, visible and recognizable: from web page to social networks, contents must be optimized for each device and consistent with each other. To give a concrete example, promotional e-mails should also be re-proposed at the same time and in the same manner in the store, on Facebook and on the website. Multi-thinking is positive thinking.

What is the first step in mobile strategy?

Once you understand the importance of mobile marketing, the first step must be taken from the starting base: a perfectly functioning mobile site is a decisive element for the success of future mobile marketing activities. Building one is now within everyone’s reach, even non-programmers or those with limited budget because there are platforms on the web that enable the creation of mobile sites and apps without special technical skills. Having a mobile site is not just a technical matter, but also a strategic one: clients or potential clients with little time could turn to the competitor if a site does not load properly within a few seconds. So it is crucial to have a mobile site that is fast, easily navigable and immediate in providing information.

And always dare and as much as possible, without fearing change or anything new: small and medium-sized companies are still waiting for the big ones to test these novelties, to ride the wave of innovation, thinking they would risk too much time and budget on them. But what they have not realized is the fact that the world has changed: trying new ideas and tools on mobile can be done with low investment and less design time, and in return customers are offered their presence in this platform as well. There are more opportunities than risks and this time the starting line is the same for everyone: who will get there first?

who will get there first

By Silvio Porcellana, CEO and Founder of mob.is.it

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The Best Social Media Tools For 2015 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/social-networking/the-best-social-media-tools-for-2015/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/social-networking/the-best-social-media-tools-for-2015/#comments Thu, 29 Oct 2015 20:05:19 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=21073 Post image for The Best Social Media Tools For 2015

Choosing which social media tools to use can often be as hard a decision as deciding what to post on social media sometimes. There is an abundance of tools out there with often at first glance similar functions and abilities so deciding which one is best for your needs can be a challenge to say the least.

The infographic below created by Ian Anderson Gray and G2 Crowd details the four best social media management tools in their opinion based on; user satisfaction, product direction, how easy it is to learn, user experience, and the level of support amongst other things.

When it comes to choosing tools to manage your social media you need to decide which factors are most important to you when it comes to managing your social media marketing. Whatever your influences are the infographic makes for interesting reading and may cause you to rethink which tool is best for your social media management marketing.

We’d love to know which is your favourite tool so please do leave a comment and let us know why!

 

Best social media management tools
37d197e44f14eb62e6bdc08e90dbde1b37951c5fe048751241

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5 Ways Ecommerce is Getting Easier http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/internet-marketing/5-ways-ecommerce-is-getting-easier/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/internet-marketing/5-ways-ecommerce-is-getting-easier/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 16:20:41 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=21068

ecommerceEcommerce has simplified the world for many of us, easing the consumer shopping experience by leaps and bounds. Thanks to ecommerce, a vast variety of goods and services are readily available with the touch of a button. For consumers, it’s easier to research competitors and hunt for the best prices. But the pendulum swings the other way as well and advances in ecommerce are also helping store owners. Recent web and tech developments mean that ecommerce is getting easier from both sides of the shopping cart.

Want to make your own online store? You can do it in an afternoon with a website builder like Wix. Let’s take a look at some of the other tools making the world of ecommerce easier and more accessible to small businesses around the globe.

Smartphone Camera Tools

The smartphone camera revolutionized the ease with which merchants can get product images online. Unfortunately, until recently, the quality of smartphone pics just wasn’t good enough to look professional, even though the advent of small online shops created a large demand for an easy (and cheap) way to publish high quality photos online.

Everyone knows that better product images improves sales. The proliferation of high quality phone cameras, coupled with great smartphone gadgets, has changed the game forever. Gone are the days when business owners would need to hire a professional photographer to take pictures of their products. With the right smartphone lenses, even your iPhone can take good enough photos to compete with DSLRs.

For those new to the scene, it’s easy to find good tutorials online about how to take stunning professional-looking images of your products using your phone or a basic point and shoot camera. It’s great to realize that, other than the cost of your phone, excellent product photos can be created for free.

Mass Email Clients

MailChimp, Constant Contact, Emma, Simply Cast… all of these mass email clients have made a significant impact on ecommerce. Suddenly, even small shops can mass-email their client base to advertise deals, sales, new products and other developments. And since return clients are the bread and butter of most ecommerce stores, this will move the needle. Luckily great website builders like Wix and Squarespace are jumping on this bandwagon and offering tremendclient contact and mass email solutions; so much so, in fact, that even larger retailers are taking note.

Never before has it been so easy to advertise directly to past clients; this fact alone can send sales figures soaring, particularly during peak seasons.

Social Tools

Social tools have made dozens of aspects of ecommerce easier. Want to ask your clients their opinion on your goods? Use social commenting (like Loopit)! Want to broaden a product exposure with the click of a button? Add social sharing tools! Great products often get lots of shares, which can go a long way in attracting more business.

Payment Systems

Setting up and managing payment systems used to be one of the hardest parts of running or patronizing an ecommerce website. But these days, webmasters can add credit card processing with a few clicks. There are many services to choose from, including Leap Payments, PayPal, PaySimple and Flint…Some major banks now have their own plugins to allow for easy online payments. Though all charge a small fee, those fees have been reduced as the payment systems become easier to use.

Web-Based Graphic Programs

Web-based programs like Canva and Imgur, are good replacements for the cost of paying a full time graphic designer. With enough options to make them easy to use and comprehensive, they serve as replacements for professional programs like Photoshop. In fact, you can make pretty much anything for free these days using a web-based graphic programs, including images for ecommerce and social media platforms, modifications of product images, coupons, book covers, presentations, and many elements of web design. You name it, you can make it fast and you can make it free.

For tips to leverage such programs in the best possible way without any added expense, work with high resolution public domain images such as those found in wikipedia’s image database as the base for your graphics.

The Bottom Line

These are only five of the ways that ecommerce is getting easier… even for small businesses. No doubt you can come up with more! And given how fast the landscape is changing, clearly there will be plenty more improvements and developments throughout 2015.

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Determining The Right Advertising Budget http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/internet-marketing/the-right-advertising-budget/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/internet-marketing/the-right-advertising-budget/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 17:37:50 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=21061

advertising budgetNewcomers to online marketing are almost spoiled for choice. A dizzying number of potential advertising channels open up the moment you decide to start building a web presence. The good news: all those options grant flexibility and allow you to test multiple platforms. The bad news: it’s also possible to wind up hemorrhaging money with little to show for it if you invest too much in ill-fitting media.

Determining your ad budget is a crucial first step to any successful campaign. Many businesses allot funds early on, then try to distribute them later. I’m not going to call this a poor first step, but it’s a risky one to take without some idea of cost. Different channels come with different price tags, and it’s vital to have some understanding of what they are.

Social Media

  • What it is: Utilizing social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.) to build a brand presence and attract customers.
  • What it costs: A social media campaign can cost as little or as much as you’d like it to. It’s certainly possible to set up free accounts with a few different services, then act as manager yourself, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To actually figure out how much you’ll be paying, carefully lay out what platforms you’ll be utilizing, if you’ll be paying someone to post content, and if you’ll need to budget for any related expenses, e.g. setting aside stock as a prize for a Twitter contest.
  • Who can benefit: Anyone. Given how relatively budget-friendly social media is, it’s basically assumed that even the smallest startup will have at least a few active feeds. Choosing which channels to use is up to you. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are all givens, but more visual brands might want to head for Instagram and Pinterest. Google+ hangouts and up-and-comers like Meerkat or Periscope are awesome if you’d like to speak directly to viewers.
  • Case Study: A major Twitter offensive helped San Francisco’s Creme Brulee Cart pile up an impressive 12,000 followers in just one year. Tweeting location and special flavors allowed the food cart owners to quickly engage with followers, both encouraging them to have crème brulee on the brain, and telling them where to find it. The kicker? Not a cent was spent on advertising.

PPC Advertising

  • What it is: The go-to option for budget online marketing. The reason? Click-through rates have plunged for many ad styles; Pay-per-click addresses that problem by requiring companies to pay for only, well, actual clicks. Largely synonymous with big players like Facebook and Google advertising for most.
  • What it costs: Again, it’s variable, but keep this in mind: an expensive PPC campaign is, by definition, a successful one. Budgets can run from as little as $10/month to six-digit figures.
  • Who can benefit: Companies with a highly searchable product might want to consider using buying a particular keyword. For example, let’s say you exist in a niche market, and don’t have too many large competitors, but your content still has trouble ranking on Google. A well-chosen bid could provide solid ROI. Just about any company can take advantage of on-site PPC advertising, which can quickly scale in terms of time and capital investment. Thankfully, pricing them beforehand is possible. PPC engines generally allow you to set stringent price limits before launching your ad.
  • Case Study: Continental Van Lines, a Washington-based moving company, carefully targeted local search keywords for Washington and Alaskan markets. Integrating with Google Places allowed the use of location extensions (very useful, if you’re dealing with a geographically limited market). The result? A three-to-one return on ad budget.

Placed Advertising

  • What it is: Placed ads are generally run through networks responsible for placing advertising on several different sites. Their actual appearance ranges from simple banner ads to full-background takeovers and video or rich media options.
  • What it costs: You can generally expect to pay several hundred per month for a static banner ad. Start looking at more exotic options, and cost scales accordingly. Each site or network’s costs will vary, so take quotes from potential partners before you set your budget.
  • Who can benefit: Companies serving established, well-defined audiences stand to gain the most from placed ads. Products or services that target a very specific demographic can, if placed on the right site, directly reach likely customers. More ambitious campaigns – like, say, Honda’s “Hondastage” concert tour – also do their best when run prominently with specific partners.

Bottom Line

As you may have noticed while reading through, the most common characteristic of online marketing channels is that they have incredibly variable pricing, even within a given medium. The only way to truly set a reliable advertising budget is to get straight to the source.

Don’t get me wrong, there are basic rules to follow. The above sources are ranked in rough order of ascending cost – by and large, that holds true. But the flexibility within each category means that you’ll actually need to set definite costs for social contests, request quotes from advertising networks, and go through a dry run before you ever send content out over a PPC distributor.

I mentioned this earlier: many advertisers start with a set amount of money, then carve up their campaigns to fit. It’s a functional approach, but Procrustean. Instead, if possible, start with the channels. Lay out several potential campaigns, fully explore their costs, and then – only then – should you start to shape your final budget. You’ll wind up with a more accurate estimate, and a more complete plan of attack.

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Create Compelling and Fun Animation and Infographics With GoAnimate http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/internet-marketing/goanimate-review/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/internet-marketing/goanimate-review/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 16:49:08 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=21013

Remember when you were a kid and you tried to draw your favorite superhero or cartoon character? You took out a pad and turned to a fresh, blank page and began doodling. After a while, you had a drawing of a strange superhero with a head way too big for his body and one arm twice the size of the other one.

I thought about those days when I learned about GoAnimate, a web-based service that lets users make animated videos without being able to draw. I still can’t draw after all these years, so I reached out to the company and they gave me a free account to give it a test drive.

goanimate review

A little skeptical, I logged on the site. I thought it would be more “cartoony.” Instead, they have a very professional-looking site with modern javascript-based scrolling content.

The first question on my mind was, “How is it possible to make animated cartoons without drawing them.” The way it works is you drag and drop stock, pre-drawn characters on different scenes like an office or a home. The characters “speak” with audio files you’ve recorded and uploaded, recorded directly in the program with a mic, or with the built-in Text-to-Speech technology.

I decided to make a real short video to see how the Text-to-Speech sounded. I dragged a nerdy-looking guy on to an office scene, typed in the phrase, “Hello, everyone! Is it Friday yet?” and selected one of the male voices. You can choose from different accents from around the world.

The first voice I chose didn’t sound so good. It sounded a little like those audio menus you hear when you call your bank. But the second character voice I selected, named “Brian,” actually sounded fairly natural.

Here is one of their promo videos to see how it works:

Scenes and characters are grouped into different themes. There is a wide variety of themes, from anime to business. Here are some examples of scenes and characters you find in the “Comedy World” theme. Other themes include “Lil’ Peepz,” Chibi Ninjas,” and “Space Citizens.”

Scene Examples in the
“Comedy World” Theme

Character Examples in the
“Comedy World” Theme

 goanimate review 2  goanimate review 3

One interesting feature is if you don’t have time to choose scenes and characters, you can go with pre-produced templates that have scenes, music, sound effects and various characters ready to go.

For example, one template takes place in the kitchen of an office complex. One character walks in, chats with another one, and walks out. I tried it by choosing the template, called “Chilling Out in the Office.”

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Next I chose these two characters.

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I typed in the “speech text” directly.

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Finally, I previewed the video to make sure everything looked good. I saved it and it appeared in my video list on my account.

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As easy as it was to make this short little video, I think it will take some practice to learn how to create a really good one, even with the speedy templates.

So, what can I do with my video? The usage rights depend on the plan you choose. Here is a look at the plans available:

Free Plan

The Free plan limits you to 10 lines of dialog. That’s about one minute of video or less, depending on the text. You are allowed to view the video on GoAnimate and link to it from your social media sites, but you cannot upload it to YouTube nor download it to your hard drive.

Personal Plans

Go Plus. For $18 per quarter, or yearly at $58 you can download videos at 360p, export directly to YouTube, produce unlimited videos, and import your own audio and images. Each video is watermarked with the GoAnimate logo.

Go Publish. This plans costs $99 per quarter, or $299 for one year. Now you can download videos at 720p, which is a fast becoming a minimum standard for web video. You export directly to YouTube and several other sites, produce unlimited videos and import your own audio and images. In addition, you can access all themes on the site, and organize your videos to be more efficient. This plan is also watermarked with the GoAnimate logo.

Business Plans

GoPublish. This plan costs $39/ month or $299/year. There can only be one person on the account. You can download in 360p or 720p, gain access to the complete Features and Libraries available and download unlimited videos. This plan does not allow you to remove the GoAnimate watermark.

GoPremium. Prices for this plan are $79/month or $599/year. This is for real power users that want the best resolution- you can download at Full HD of 1080p, giving you maximum production quality. Even better, there is no GoAnimate watermark on your videos, providing a more professional look.

GoTeam. Geared toward departments or agencies that need collaboration capability, the investment for GoTeam is $250/month or $2000/year for 3 users. More users can be added for additional fees. This plan offers group management features and full project collaboration functions. It is really geared toward animation agencies, visual content producers and other “high end” users.

When GoAnimate started in 2007, the core user group was animation fans and kids. As the site evolved, it added business themes, settings and characters to appeal to people wanting to promote products and services. They recently added two more features geared to the business crowd: Video Infographics and Whiteboard Animation.

Infographics

The Web is rapidly becoming an image and graphic-based medium. GoAnimate now allows you to create videos that include motion infographics, Here is an example:

Whiteboard Animation

Whiteboard animation has been all over the Internet in the last two years, although I think it was overdone. These are videos that rapidly draw cartoons, characters, graphs, text and more on a whiteboard background. Here is an idea of what it looks like:

In the end, I liked what you can do with GoAnimate. Real hand-drawn, custom animation is super expensive. Here we can make decent-looking videos at a much lower price. Plus, we don’t have to have any artistic talent. So it really worth a shot, try it and write your experiences in the comments below!

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Secrets of a Killer Blog Post : Content http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/blogging/secrets-of-a-killer-blog-post-content/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/blogging/secrets-of-a-killer-blog-post-content/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:11:20 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=20989

When it comes to operating a blog that your audience can really connect with, one of the key elements is creating good quality content. Your content must not only be unique, but it should also be fresh, useful and engaging. Each time you create a new blog post, you should be asking yourself what the purpose of that post actually is. The best content will solve a problem, answer a question or provide information. It should be evergreen and show your audience that you are a credible authority on your chosen topic.

All of this may seem like a lot to ask, but thanks to a new infographic title ‘Secrets of a Killer Blog Post : Content” (source) you can break it all down into a few easy to manage points. One of the first areas that the infographic focuses on is choosing an appropriate topic. It goes without saying that your blog posts should be relevant to your niche, after all you want them to prove that you know what you are actually talking about!

The question is, where do you find inspiration for your blog posts when choosing topics. One great piece of advice offered by the infographic is to look at where your audience is active. You should know who your target audience are, so the next step is to find out where they spend their time online. Are they participating in Twitter chats? Do they belong to LinkedIn groups focused on a particular topic? Spend time interacting with your audience and see what they are talking about. If you notice that many of your demographic are voicing frustrations over the same problem then it would be well worth putting together a blog post that will offer a solution to that very problem.

When your readers know that they can expect you to provide them with solutions to their problems, or some valuable information then they will come to regard you as an authority that they can rely on and that will keep them coming back to read your posts.

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Creative Ways to Promote Your Next Blog Post http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/blogging/promote-your-next-blog-post/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/blogging/promote-your-next-blog-post/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 15:35:53 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=20979

creative blog promotionAre you struggling to attract attention to all of the awesome content on your blog? Are you, like other bloggers, finding that sharing your content on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ just isn’t enough?

Well, luckily for you, this post will provide you with some creative ways to promote your blog and generate a larger audience for its amazing content.

I am sure you have put a lot of time and effort in creating and designing your blog, writing posts and uploading content but in order to get the most out of your blog, you need to put the same effort into promoting it.

Think Outside the Box

Everyone is using popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to share and promote their content.  However in order to get noticed, you need to branch out from these typical social networks and share your content on smaller social platforms.

Tumblr is a great place to get started. Users of this microblogging website tend to be younger. This would a great network to share content if it is directed to a younger audience. Another great network to consider is Empire Avenue. Here, you will be able to expand your social audience by discovering new people and content that relates to yours.

This site is particularly important because most of the members are bloggers or social media professionals! Finally, for those of you who typically write “How To” posts, definitely consider joining Quora, which is a question-and-answer-based community.

Bookmarking Sites

There are also some social bookmarking sites that you should be a part of. Social bookmarking sites allow users to organize , share content and add entries. One site that you should definitely look into is StumbleUpon, which is a discovery engine that finds and recommends web content to its members.

Each time you create a post, you should also share it on Technorati. Technorati is a must because it is a top search engine for blogs. It is also one of the biggest blog submission services on the Web, which not only indexes your submissions, but also gives them a rank. Consistently getting good ratings will help better promote your blog, and will ultimately result in more traffic.

Grab Interest with Media

Sharing your content among a host of different sites will only get you so far. You should also get creative and make your content more engaging and appealing to viewers by using visual media.

Vine

Vine is an Iphone app that allows you to create an interesting and engaging 6-second preview of your post. Think of it like a movie trailer. In your 6-second video, you want to do enough to make your viewers interested and excited enough to read your post, without giving away too much.

Imgur

Imgur is another great option if you are trying to create more interest for content with media. It is the home of the most popular image content on the Web and features a comment-based social community. Here, users can submit their content directly to the Imgur gallery for the public to view, vote, and comment on. For instance, 12 Keys Rehab used Imgur successfully to promote one of their graphics, which shows the percentage of cigarette smokers per state.

Pinterest

The final free media platform that you should consider trying to better promote your blog is Pinterest, which has proven to be an effective marketing tool for bloggers. By adding Pinterest buttons and widgets, you will effectively advertise for your blog and Pinterest account. To better promote yourself, make sure the images that you are pinning on your blog are ones that readers will want to share. You will drive traffic to your blog every time someone clicks on your image on Pinterest.

A Look Back

Within this post, we touched on a number of strategies that are creative, and will help better promote your blog and content. Remember that publishing well-written posts is only half the battle. In order to make your blog more popular and get more traffic, you need to put in the same amount of effort, if not more in promoting it.

Image by Viktor Hanacek

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How To Make Money On YouTube [INFOGRAPHIC] http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/more-opportunities/how-to-make-money-on-youtube-infographic/ http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/more-opportunities/how-to-make-money-on-youtube-infographic/#respond Tue, 01 Jul 2014 18:27:16 +0000 http://www.opportunitiesplanet.com/?p=20972

Have you ever considered turning to YouTube in order to make a little extra income? This is not an easy option where you will become an overnight sensation, but with a little effort you can turn your YouTube channel into a healthy source of additional income by not only monetizing your account with adverts, but also by offering consulting, product sales and sponsorship deals. If you are not sure of where to start, then take a look at this infographic from YouTube Downloader which explains how to make money on YouTube.

The first step in earning money via YouTube is of course to monetize your account. In order to do this you must go to the settings area of your account and enable that option. You will then be able to select the types of advertising that you will allow on your videos. You should be aware that your videos will be placed under review for a short period of time to evaluate your content and after this time ads will be added to them.

However, advertising is not the only source of income that you can generate from your YouTube account. Some of the other options outlined by the infographic below include product sales following review and demonstration videos, consulting services and sponsorship deals.

make money on youtube

 

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