It’s hard to believe that it’s almost the end of 2016 and time to move on to 2017. Crazy, right? I know! Anyway, as 2016 draws to a close, I want to get us thinking about how we can improve our content marketing programs in 2017 and beyond. So, here are five tips that will help lead you to success in the new year.

1. Think before you plan
Spend time white-boarding, brainstorming, talking to your team, your customers, whoever. Don’t just jump right into content development, but really vet why you’re creating a new piece.
And be honest with yourself: Is this content that your consumer really wants or needs? If not, why are you creating it?
I’m challenging you here — that’s right. Think before you start. Don’t just create a blog post because someone said, “We need a blog.” Understand why you need a blog first.

2. Ask questions before you write
If you’re a content marketer who came from journalism, like me, then you’re probably used to finding sources for your story and doing research and interviews before you pull everything together. If you don’t have that background, it’s OK, but it’s time to change your approach and start asking questions before you write.
Meet with your stakeholders, interview your customers and talk to your customer service team to find out what customers ask about most frequently. If you take time to really understand what your customers need, you’ll create content that’s so good, they’ll want to read it — and maybe, just maybe, share it for you!

3. Invite someone else to be part of what you write
You’re likely not the only expert on the subject you’re writing about. Find someone else and include them.
Partnering with influencers is great for several reasons. First, they’re going to add some credibility to your piece because their involvement is seen as a third-party endorsement of what you’re saying.
But beyond that, when you include someone in your content, they are likely to share it with their network, too, allowing for a bigger audience reach.

4. Share what you write
When you’re creating your content plans for the future, really focus on your distribution plan. If you’re currently only posting to your blog or website, branch out a bit, add in social channels, and invite influencers you’ve partnered with to share on their networks, too.
Take a look at your referring traffic sites in your analytics account; you may find new places you should distribute your content pieces to. You never know.
Spend a few minutes reviewing what your competition and industry leaders are doing to promote and distribute their content, and see what makes sense for you.

5. Do more with less
Yup, you read that right. It’s quite possible you’ll create less content in 2017 if you follow these steps, and I believe that’s OK.
If you create content that’s really focused and provides great value to your consumer, you don’t need to create tons of it. A few core pieces may do more for you than 20 pieces of mediocre content ever could.
What do you think? I’m curious to know if you agree or disagree with the tips I’ve outlined above. What do you think we should be doing differently as an industry?
If we really focus on creating great content that our customers want and need, I think we’ll see even bigger success in 2017 and beyond. Read more..

To your Success,
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Shopify is an awesome e-commerce platform that’s affordable, easy to use, and ready to go right out of the box. It’s much more than a shopfront. Shopify stores feature fully-secure checkouts that allow retailers to start taking payments instantly, while Shopify Shipping takes the legwork out of order fulfillment (it can manage the whole process for you – seriously). Shopify can even handle your marketing by automating email and creating targeted social campaigns on your behalf.

In short, Shopify makes it as simple as possible to start and grow an e-commerce business. It’s great for those looking to create an online store or move an existing store to a more user-friendly and comprehensive platform.

That said, while Shopify includes everything you need to get a store up and running, you can get even more out of it if you take advantage of some of the many add-ons available.

Here are 10 essential Shopify apps that will help you boost sales and increase customer satisfaction. My advice: install them as soon as you set up your store!

1. Edit Order

Edit Order makes it really easy to (you guessed it) edit a completed order. This means you can alter an incorrectly placed order (for example, if a customer has ordered an item in the wrong size or color), change a billing address, or change the price of an order after receipt. It also helps to streamline your returns policy.

Capital Badges described it as “essential for us to run our business,” while Elua said, “It’s a lifesaver when someone changes their order or requires a custom line item.”

2. Audience Push

Audience Push is an essential app for all Shopify store owners who utilize Facebook advertising. After connecting to your Facebook (which you can do in a single click), Audience Push will automatically update your Facebook Custom Audience list with details of each new customer to your store.

It’s a huge timesaver that could make a massive difference to your bottom line. Revolver Drums reported a “432% uplift in returns from these audiences – purely due to the real-time updating of my audiences.”
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3. Order Printer

Being able to print invoices, receipts, and packing labels is essential to any e-commerce store. Unfortunately, that ability isn’t built into Shopify as standard, which makes Order Printer an indispensable plugin for Shopify store owners.

The layout and design of Order Printer’s documents are completely customizable, and to save time, you can print whatever you need in bulk.

It’s no surprise, then, that The Yum Factor said, “Really handy for something that you would have thought was a basic requirement of Shopify!” while Athlete Denim said, “It has certainly taken the stress out of our Fulfilment and it looks seriously slick, too.”

4. Persistent Cart

Persistent Cart saves you sales. That should be enough to convince you why you need this. If not, consider the fact that it improves your user experience, which gives your customers even more reasons to keep coming back.

Essentially what Persistent Cart does is save your customers’ shopping carts after they leave the site. That means if they come back later – on the same device or a different one – their cart is ready and waiting for them, exactly as they left it.

It’s super-simple to use too, as proven by Mettle Force, which described it as “the easiest app you’ll ever install.”

5. Out of Stock

Another essential app that helps save sales, Out of Stock lets customers pre-order and pay for items that are currently unavailable. Alternatively, you can enable a “notify” button, which contacts customers as soon as an out of stock item becomes available.

6. Google Shopping

In-house app Google Shopping helps boost sales with minimal effort on your part by automating the process of listing products on Google Shopping or as Product Listing Ads. Once connected, the app will automatically sync your store with the Google Merchant Center and allow you to update listings from within Shopify.

Kerstin’s Nature Products said it “helped to bring some of my products onto the first page of Google Shopping” while the Organic Wine Club loves how easy it is to use, stating, “We have started using it and running Shopping campaigns without major knowledge about it.”

7. Tidio Live Chat

Today’s customers want – and pretty much demand – to be able to contact companies by live chat. That’s in large part because “they get their questions answered immediately,” “they can multitask,” and “it’s efficient.” It also boasts extremely high satisfaction levels.

Tidio makes integrating live chat into your Shopify store really easy – just install the plugin and you’re ready to go.

The Kapas Baby and Toddler team described it as hugely beneficial to their business because they are “always able to respond, interact, and assist our customers while they shop online.”

8. Exit Offers

Exit Offers boosts sales by helping you save customers that are about to abandon a purchase. Visitors who add items to their cart but then try to leave without completing their purchase are shown an offer designed to entice them to buy. What that offer is, is up to you. It could be free shipping or a percentage off the order. You can also split test offers right from within the app to help you figure out which type of offer performs best for you.

The app claims to boost sales by up to 20%.

9. Orderify

Orderify enhances your user experience by affording customers more control over their purchases. As well as being able to edit or cancel orders (before they’ve been shipped, of course), Orderify makes it really easy for your customers to reorder a previous purchase. In short, Orderify leads to “higher sales and happier customers.”

10. McAfee SECURE

Consumers won’t buy from stores they don’t trust, so if they don’t feel comfortable entering their credit card details into your site, you’re going to lose that sale – it’s as simple as that. McAfee SECURE is a simple widget that serves as a “badge of trust” to show customers that your site is safe and secure.

Read more on shopify apps

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Breakfast is on me today

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