How to Get on Board With the Digital Transformation [+ Templates]

Ten years ago, I couldn't have cared less if the new burger place downtown had a website. Now, I don't trust one that doesn't. Consumer buying behavior has drastically changed -- today, the majority of consumers are purchasing products online, including almost 70% of millennials.

In 2019, almost two-thirds of businesses (64%) have a website. If you don't have one, you could be falling behind your online competition. 

If your business is online, you're a part of the digital transformation. But it's not enough these days to just "be online". Businesses in 2019 that thrive are operating online -- with the aid of different apps, sites, and CRMs to help them out.

So, while it's a great step to have a website and a Facebook page, there's more to the transformation than just that.

Here, we'll explore what the digital transformation is, and how you can get on board to ensure your operations run smoother than ever.

What is the digital transformation?

Digital transformation is simply a term for the shift we're experiencing as a society. As the world becomes increasingly digital, so is the way businesses work. It's not changing what businesses do -- rather, it's just changing which platforms businesses use.

For example, instead of reading a map to find directions to that new burger place, you can simply type the business's name into Google or a Maps app, and retrieve the same information. The only difference is that the information is online.

Finding information online transfers to businesses' recruitment processes, as well. Instead of a prospective employee filling out a paper application in-person, now most companies post applications on LinkedIn or Indeed.

Additionally, customer experiences have become increasingly digital with social media marketing.

Tech-savvy companies nowadays have interactive, beautiful websites. Plus, in 2019, a company's tracking process transfers to online analytics.

The transformation is everywhere, and becoming more commonplace each day.

What does digital transformation mean for you? Well, it's a reminder that any paper materials your company is using in the day-to-day might need a new medium -- the internet.

Next, let's take a look at why the digital transformation is happening, and go over a strategy to make sure your company isn't falling behind when it comes to being online.

Why are businesses experiencing a digital transformation?

Simply put, things are often easier when they're online. Additionally, new technology is making website building more accessible, and creating more opportunities for businesses to connect with their audiences.

In fact, 70% of businesses today are finding that the digital shift is worth it, and these businesses either have a digital strategy in place, or are earnestly working towards one.

A digital shift not only saves you trees, but time.

You may be using some methods of digital strategy already. SOPs, social media campaigns, and instant messaging apps like Slack are all examples of small digital transformations that replace paper instructions, outbound marketing, and an extra trip to your manager's desk.

Other methods of shifting digitally aren't as easy to implement, like social media. However, with 63% of businesses going the social media route with their marketing, the increasing importance of the medium is rapidly becoming prevalent.

Next, let's explore some examples of digital transformation more in-depth, so you can consider implementing some of these processes for your own business.

Digital transformation examples

1. Instant messaging

Instead of having a meeting or a long email thread for a quick message, send it to your company's workspace channel. Some instant messaging services are made for corporate settings, like Slack or Flock.

Example of Slack dashboard

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With these services, you can file share, direct message, and create channels where teams can collaborate and discuss projects. Think of it as the office water cooler -- just online.

2. Application tools

Are you looking for new talent? The best candidates (especially ones who prefer to work digitally) are online.

For instance, LinkedIn, a site for professional networking, is a great source for recruiting candidates:

How to make a job post on LinkedIn

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Using LinkedIn's template will help you post an incredible listing, and you can use LinkedIn's industries function to help the right candidates find it. LinkedIn will alert you of new applicants and send you their applications, making the selection process an online breeze.

3. Sales management

As aforementioned, software is available to help manage many facets of your business, including sales. This software helps you manage calls, pipelines, reporting, and follow-up resources to help your process migrate smoothly online.

Example of HubSpot CRM

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For instance, HubSpot offers a free Sales hub to organize all of your sales materials online. In the tool, you can manage deals, filter contacts, and create different tasks via dashboard to help you keep track of your sales processes.

4. Standard operating procedures (SOPs)

If you have certain aspects of your day-to-day that require multiple steps written down somewhere, dig it out and post it online. This will reduce the paper trail and make the processes shareable among employees.

For instance, this is an example of a standard operating procedure and yes, you can find them online, too:

Example of SOP

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Online SOP software makes listing the procedures of job functions easy to do and comprehend. To help make the transition smooth, talk to your employees and ask them to collaborate with you in the process.

5. Customer relationship management (CRM) software

A CRM is going to be your best friend when shifting to an all-digital business. Our research checklist consolidates the process because it's extensive, but necessary. Ultimately, CRMs help you maintain relationships with customers.

HubSpot CRM example

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HubSpot's free CRM offers three hubs that give you an all-in-one business platform experience. From customer service reps to sales leaders and business owners, this free CRM helps you fully transfer your business online and drive growth.

6. Video chat software

Is your team out of town but you need to schedule a meeting? Use video chat software to meet virtually. Software like Skype for Business and Zoom offer free web-chatting services for professional use.

Example of Skype conversation

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Skype has automatic subtitle settings and 1:1 capabilities as well as the option to host multiple people on calls at once. Most software also has a phone version, to make sure you're accessible anytime, anywhere (during the work day).

Though these tools are designed to make your life easier, every process won't be as seamless as it could be, and digital transformations are no exception. Let's explore some major challenges of shifting to a digital process, next.

Digital Transformation Challenges

Even though the advantages of shifting digitally are abundant, there are challenges in making that transfer happen. Like previously mentioned, two-thirds of small businesses are online. However, that still leaves one-third that are likely hesitant to make the push.

Common challenges to beginning a digital transformation are employee pushback, limited budget, technical difficulties with integration, and poor business models. Each of these challenges come with their own set of solutions.

With a proper strategy, these challenges can be alleviated. For instance, you can work with managers to ensure your employees are informed about the changes that matter to them.

Alternatively, you might start your digital transformation with cheaper components, like social media or a free CRM, rather than more expensive foundational switches like creating high-quality advertising campaigns.

HubSpot offers a free template that will help you schedule and work through a digital transformation process, broken down into seven weeks. Week one is all about gathering existing sales and marketing materials on paper, while week two dives into transferring your business online, and so on. These small steps are designed to fit into your busy schedule and help you remain organized as you transition.

HubSpot digital transformation template

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Week two is also the data migration step. A free CRM, like HubSpot, can help you input business data like contacts in one place that's easy to access.

By weeks three and four, you'll have a functioning website and marketing resources to help you learn more about integrating processes online.

HubSpot digital transformation checklist

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The latter half of the weekly plan ramps up your online presence. Using this template can help you organize your new digital shift by area, to avoid doing one huge push all at once and confusing employees.

Creating a blog during week five will help you find your target audience online. Posts should be about your target market (if you're a tech marketing company, for instance, posts should center around the intersection between the two) to demonstrate your expertise. This will build your reputation as a thought leader in your industry.

Setting up a sales flow by week six will transition your sales process to be completely digital. Online sales tools allow you to keep track of all your contacts, log your conversations, and keep tabs on call schedules and upcoming meetings.

Email and paid ads should be rocking-and-rollin' by week seven. The email software you choose will help you through the process of sending automated emails to subscribers, and let you test out paid ad software.

In a month and a half, most of your business processes will be digital.

Best of all, this template gives you the wiggle room to expand as your business continues to incorporate digital components -- but as a starting point, it gets you up and running. Hopefully with this template, those challenges mentioned above -- like working with hesitant employees, a weak business model, or limited budget -- seem a little less daunting.

Now, I bet you're thinking of a way to start researching. The internet is a vast place, after all. Well, there's a template for that, too. This checklist is part of the set of free templates HubSpot offers that help you filter through different tools and resources to find the one that's right for you.

HubSpot digital transformation research list

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The checklist is made with your business in mind, to think about how restructuring online will benefit you. Additionally, it gives you room to think about the pros and cons of different software out there, including what will likely work best with your operations and budget.

Additionally, you can use these resources to present the benefits of a digital transformation to involved stakeholders. Everyone can have access to this template to keep current on the transformation, so you can all stay on the same page.

Soon, the majority of businesses will conduct at least part of their business online. To make sure you're one of them, it's critical you take part in the digital transformation. Make sure you're well prepared and amping up for the change, now.



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Remote HubSpot Employees Give 8 Tips for Working From Home

At INBOUND this year, HubSpot CTO and co-founder Dharmesh Shah announced that our company now has more than 200 remote employees globally

Remote work is becoming so valuable to prospective employees that the second-most searched word on HubSpot's career page is "remote."

Clearly, people love the idea of working from home or a location outside the office. And this makes sense. Have you ever wanted to work for a far-away company you couldn't move to? Or have you ever wanted to cut a tough commute out of your schedule to spend more time with family? These are just a few great reasons why people might want to work remote.

If you're an employer concerned about how offering remote work as an option to employees could impact productivity,, a number of studies have concluded that remote work can be incredibly effective at increasing productivity

A 2016 survey found that 91% of participants said they get more work done when working from home. Many of this study's participants also said they felt happier at their job when they worked remote as opposed to in-office.

Later, in 2019, a two-year Stanford University study found that remote employees can boost a company's productivity.

As the remote workforce has grown, HubSpot has embraced the work style. In fact, our Marketing team recently held a remote quarterly meeting. Instead of booking a large conference room, all HubSpot marketing employees -- even those who worked in-office -- simply logged on to the video call from remote locations. At the end of the virtual meeting, we heard from a small group of remote HubSpot marketers about their experiences with working out of the office.

Although this all seems pretty promising way to work, you might still be thinking, "Remote work sounds great, but is it possible for managers or leaders?"

At HubSpot, the answer is yes. In fact, our blogging team alone has six fully remote members, including two people managers from across the United States.

Sounds great, right?

If and when you transition to your first semi or fully remote job, you might be excited about your role's helpful out-of-office location. But, you might also have concerns like, "How will I get visibility in my company?" or "Will I miss important meetings or be out of the loop?"

To help answer some of your burning work-from-home questions, I spoke with a handful of remote HubSpot employees from different departments to get their eight most valuable tips.

1. Determine if remote work is right for you.

For some people, working remote on a full-time basis feels ideal and most productive. However, some people prefer having meetings in person in the office during the week with only one or two full remote days. And, lastly, others might feel like they get the best work done in an office.

Everyone is different, so if you think you'd like to work remote, testing out all three of the work styles noted above can be a helpful way to make a decision about where you'd like your role to be on a daily basis.

At HubSpot's internal quarterly marketing meeting, which I mentioned above, those who spoke on the remote panel suggested that employees should test a few work-from-home schedules if they think this working style is right for them. These panelists also suggested that it can be helpful to start with one remote day a week and then expand to two or three days as you get used to the new environment.

2. Schedule meetings and work hours in chunks.

When you're remote, it's easy to get distracted by family, friends, errands, or other aspects of your day-to-day life. Working in your own house might cause distractions as you think of chores or tasks you need to do related to your home. Meanwhile, prepping for multiple scattered work calls might distract you from completing bigger projects that require heads-down attention.

To avoid distractions from life or your other duties, establish a solid schedule when you start your remote position.

According to Rebecca White, a California-based junior staff writer for the HubSpot Blog, planning and sticking to a firm schedule can be incredibly important if you're transitioning into a remote position for the first time.

“Set up a schedule and routine for yourself as quickly as you can. This means setting boundaries for what you do during the day," says White.

White explains that setting schedule boundaries can involve designating offline times when you aren't working. Since you might be working during or outside of your office's standard hours, you could also set time blocks for yourself to be online when your team is in office.

During work hours, White warns that a schedule with vague boundaries can cause you to end up working at odd hours.

"It’s easy to fall into the trap of getting things done during the day, but still feeling like you’ve wasted your time and now need to work later in the evening," White explains. "Setting boundaries for yourself and having a routine schedule will help avoid those pitfalls.”

Scott Tousley, a California-based senior team lead on thef user acquisition team, echoed this sentiment, saying he also schedules his entire workday, as well as breaks, in large blocks.

Tousley says that his first work chunk occurs from 7 a.m. to noon. Then, he takes a break from noon to 2 p.m. followed by his last work block from 2 to 7 p.m.

Many of the other remote employees we talked to also encouraged scheduling multiple meetings within the same day or in dedicated blocks of time.

For example, you could consider dedicating the first few days of the week to meetings and smaller tasks. Then, use the meetingless days to focus on the bigger projects.

“If you can, group all your meetings so they happen over the course of two or three days. Leave a couple of days wide open to get that heads-down, max-effort work done," says Allie Decker, a content writerbased in Chicago.

Scheduling meetings all together will not only prevent you from having to stop working on a big project for a 30-minute call, but it will also allow you to streamline the time you spend preparing for meetings.

Decker adds, "You can also use these [meetingless] days to get out of the house, change up your workspace, and not have to worry about taking video or phone calls in loud public spots.”

Scheduling a workday when you can't be in the office can be tricky. While you might be able to schedule your own meetings on specific days, your in-office or remote coworkers in another time zone might need to meet at a time that doesn't always work for you. While you should make exceptions for important meetings, you’ll still want to try your best to stick to a regular week-to-week schedule and communicate your working hours with your team.

If your office has a calendar system where any of your colleagues can see your schedule and book time with you, check with your manager to see if it's okay to schedule a block of time that says something like, "Do Not Book," "Writing time," or "Email me to book meetings during this time." With notes explaining why you’re unavailable for meetings on your calendar, colleagues will be able to see that this time is dedicated to bigger projects and tasks.

3. Over-communicate with everyone.

When you're remote, your colleagues in another time zone might unknowingly invite you to video calls at a late hour that doesn't work for you. Or, even if you are in the same time zone, you might find that there are consistent miscommunications happening because you sent an email rather than having a face-to-face conversation about what you wanted to achieve from a team project.

To avoid confusion points between you and your in-office team, err on the side of over-communicating. Be sure to regularly check in with colleagues on phone calls, during video chats, or through your office's direct messaging system.

"Over-communicate everything," says Christina Perricone, a manager on the blogging teambased in Atlanta.

"Since people can’t stop by your desk to clear up misunderstandings, it’s important to explain everything with thorough detail and share more information than you think is necessary," Perricone adds.

While you should still be polite and professional, be transparent and firm about your schedule, your current list of tasks, your bandwidth, and your expectations of other team members so that your colleagues and managers know what you're up to and what you need from them.

4. Plan virtual coffee chats with colleagues.

When you work outside of the office, it can be hard to get that valuable visibility that could move your career forward. Because your team will be bonding during informal office chats, outings, lunches, coffees, or events that you won't be able to attend, it's important to come up with creative ways to get to know your colleagues and improve key relationships with team managers.

“As a remote employee, it’s easy to be out of sight and out of mind," says Henry Franco, an Illinois-based social media manager. "Setting up regular one-on-one meetings with every member of your team on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis is a great way to stay connected.”

Perricone ads, "Capitalize on any opportunity to connect with colleagues -- use team meetings, one-on-one meetings, or impromptu video calls to work through problems."

"You want to use every opportunity to make up for the lack of in-office interactions that typically build rapport," Perricone explains.

On the Blog team, one great one-on-one strategy we use to catch up with coworkers is called "virtual coffee." During these virtual coffee chats, you schedule a time to simply get to know your remote or in-office colleagues over coffee or lunch, without a set agenda.

You don't necessarily have to use the virtual coffee time to talk about work. Instead, you could use that time to learn more about your coworkers or managers. Building these relationships can help you create more meaningful relationships with colleagues who are farther away. These chats will also help you learn more about how your team works together in the office.

5. Create an efficient working space.

Working in your bed or kitchen could make you want to sleep, cook, or clean when you're on the clock. Meanwhile, a noisy space in your home might open you up to distractions. If you want to get serious about working from home, you'll ideally want to have an effective office or quiet workspace that has a designated work surface, great lighting, internet, and limited distraction points.

"Try to designate a space in your home exclusively for work," says Perricone. "Taking calls from your bed or writing memos in front of your TV likely won't be very effective. You need a space that allows you to focus and be productive. That way, you can keep your work and home life as separate as possible."

As Perricone mentions, when you're working from your own home, the line between work life and your personal life can get blurry. To avoid bringing your work stress into your personal life, do your work in one isolated location of your house so that you can mentally and physically walk away from your job when you're off the clock.

"Avoid working from your bedroom or living room because there are more distractions there and it’s hard to draw a firm line between work and relaxation," Franco explains. "If you use an office, it’s much easier to close the door at the end of the workday and transition into another mindset.”

6. Work outside of your house.

Sometimes, your house can still be the most distracting place to work, even if you've created a solid workspace.

On top of the distracting environment, associating your home with work all the time might not be so great for your mental health. For example, a recent Buffer survey found that 22% of remote employees have trouble tuning out at the end of the workday.

Difficulty tuning out of work might mean you miss out on happenings in your personal life or feel stressed about your job or a deadline even when the workday is over.

As Franco mentions in the fifth tip, a home office offers you an opportunity to leave your work behind at the end of the day. But, if you don't have a home office, it might be hard to escape looking at your computer or answering emails at night when you should be focused on your personal life.

If you've tested out a number of home workspaces and find that your house or apartment isn't a great place for getting tasks done, consider going to another location -- like a coffee shop, library, or shared working space.

"I work from home primarily, but sometimes I need a change of scenery to boost productivity or simply chat with other humans," says Decker.

Decker notes that finding the best workspaces can be a process, so you'll need to do a bit of trial and error testing.

"Don’t beat yourself up if the first few locations aren’t a perfect fit. Over time, you’ll find your favorites," Decker says, adding, "Bonus points if you work regularly at a coffee shop and you’re recognized by the baristas!”

7. Prepare for video calls.

As a remote employee, regular video chats will most likely be part of your role. So, make sure your working space is properly lit and offers a professional, non-distracting background.

While it might be tempting to keep your camera off and avoid showing your surroundings to your team, Perricone says that attending a video call with the camera turned on is important for interpersonal communication and office visibility.

"Turn on the video during your calls," Perricone advises. "Ninety-three percent of communication is non-verbal. Being remote puts you at a disadvantage when it comes to reading facial expressions and body language during meetings. Video calls mitigate the disconnect that can arise from not being in-person."

8. Don't forget to take breaks.

At a normal nine-to-five job in an office, you'll usually take one or two breaks throughout the day as well as lunch. But, when you're at home and focused on a big project, time can slip away from you and you might forget to take a much-needed breather. That's why you might want to schedule breaks on your calendar.

"Since you miss out on the social cues to head out for lunch or end the workday that are inherent in in-office settings, you have to create them," says Perricone. "Set calendar appointments for lunch or a walk or a midday workout. Otherwise, you might find yourself sitting in front of your computer for 10+ hours a day."

When you do take breaks, it can be helpful to do something relaxing but still productive, like going out to lunch or taking a nice walk outside.

Tyler Littwin, HubSpot's Art Director, echoed Perricone's thoughts on scheduling break times and encourages remote workers to get some fresh air during the workday.

"Without coworkers there to grab lunch or coffee breaks with, it’s easy to stay in one place for far too long. In my humble opinion, walks are an essential part of keeping your sanity and improving your productivity. Even 15 to 20 minutes is enough of a recharge,” says Littwin.

Establishing a Healthy Remote Routine

As my remote colleagues noted continuously, the key to successful remote work is establishing a routine that allows you to effectively complete different tasks while allowing you to still keep work and home life separate -- even when you literally have to bring work home with you.

As you begin working from home, or test out a partially remote lifestyle, be sure to nail down your work and life-related schedules and set vital boundaries for yourself and your team. These strategies will keep your workdays productive and could help your remote career thrive successfully.

Want to learn more about what it takes to be a great remote employee? We recently published a post about research reveals five more researched-based tips for a successful remote career.



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Secrets of Making More Money with Social Media Revealed

More Ways to Make Money with Social Media

Are you popular on social media or have you been growing your business’ platform over time? While social media can provide great validation, it’s important to remember that you can pay yourself with likes, hearts, and retweets.

Make Money with Social Media

So what’s the point of getting popular on social media? For one, it can boost your credibility, but that’s not all. Social media is a tool that should be used to grow your business and increase profits.

Here are some real ways to get paid from social media.

How to Get Paid From Social Media

1. Sponsored Partnerships

Sponsored partnerships are a popular way to get paid from social media. If you have a large following, companies may offer to pay you to post about them. You’ve probably seen celebrities post about companies on their social media and use hashtags like #ad or #spon.

You don’t have to be famous to do this as well. If you grow a loyal following for your business and come across a company that you believe in and support, you can work out a sponsored partnership deal.

Sponsorships can pay anywhere from $50 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. As a small business owner, finding sponsored social media deals between $75 and $400 is not out of the question.

2. Affiliate Promotions

Are you an affiliate for a particular product or service? You can market your affiliate links on social media. This can be as easy as sharing a blog post that has an affiliate mentioned in it, or sharing your link on Pinterest or in your bio on Instagram.

If you share engaging content all the time and want to throw in an affiliate promotion or two, your audience probably won’t mind so long as it’s helpful and beneficial to them. Plus, it’s an easy way to get paid from social media.

3. Sell Your Products

Social media can definitely be used as a platform to sell your products. Whether you sell t-shirts or digital courses, you can integrate social media into your marketing plan. Consider running Facebook and Instagram ads to market your products.

You can also link to your store on Instagram in most cases to make easy sales straight from the platform. If you have more than 10,000 subscribers on Instagram, you can use the ‘swipe up’ feature in stories to link to your products.

4. Promote Your Services

This is one of the most common ways for business owners to get paid from social media. While your feed should be authentic and not sound like one big long ad, you can also work in ways to share more information about your services and how they can help other people.

Studies show that it takes most customers multiple times to see something before they consider buying. You can share everything from case studies and to product previews to behind-the-scenes videos and client testimonials to help boost sales via social media.

You can do all of this for free with having to use paid ads. Just narrow down your target audience’s needs and express how you can help serve them.

Summary – Diversify How You Get Paid From Social Media

You worked hard for your following and social media influence. It only makes sense that you’d want to monetize your social media presence and use it as a tool to grow your business.

If you want to get paid from social media, make sure you’re serving and being authentic too. Share a mix of news, successes, along with setbacks and failures to better connect with your audience and show them what your business is about.

Image: Due.com

This article, "Secrets of Making More Money with Social Media Revealed" was first published on Small Business Trends



via Small Business Trends Business Feeds

Secrets of Making More Money with Social Media Revealed

More Ways to Make Money with Social Media

Are you popular on social media or have you been growing your business’ platform over time? While social media can provide great validation, it’s important to remember that you can pay yourself with likes, hearts, and retweets.

Make Money with Social Media

So what’s the point of getting popular on social media? For one, it can boost your credibility, but that’s not all. Social media is a tool that should be used to grow your business and increase profits.

Here are some real ways to get paid from social media.

How to Get Paid From Social Media

1. Sponsored Partnerships

Sponsored partnerships are a popular way to get paid from social media. If you have a large following, companies may offer to pay you to post about them. You’ve probably seen celebrities post about companies on their social media and use hashtags like #ad or #spon.

You don’t have to be famous to do this as well. If you grow a loyal following for your business and come across a company that you believe in and support, you can work out a sponsored partnership deal.

Sponsorships can pay anywhere from $50 to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. As a small business owner, finding sponsored social media deals between $75 and $400 is not out of the question.

2. Affiliate Promotions

Are you an affiliate for a particular product or service? You can market your affiliate links on social media. This can be as easy as sharing a blog post that has an affiliate mentioned in it, or sharing your link on Pinterest or in your bio on Instagram.

If you share engaging content all the time and want to throw in an affiliate promotion or two, your audience probably won’t mind so long as it’s helpful and beneficial to them. Plus, it’s an easy way to get paid from social media.

3. Sell Your Products

Social media can definitely be used as a platform to sell your products. Whether you sell t-shirts or digital courses, you can integrate social media into your marketing plan. Consider running Facebook and Instagram ads to market your products.

You can also link to your store on Instagram in most cases to make easy sales straight from the platform. If you have more than 10,000 subscribers on Instagram, you can use the ‘swipe up’ feature in stories to link to your products.

4. Promote Your Services

This is one of the most common ways for business owners to get paid from social media. While your feed should be authentic and not sound like one big long ad, you can also work in ways to share more information about your services and how they can help other people.

Studies show that it takes most customers multiple times to see something before they consider buying. You can share everything from case studies and to product previews to behind-the-scenes videos and client testimonials to help boost sales via social media.

You can do all of this for free with having to use paid ads. Just narrow down your target audience’s needs and express how you can help serve them.

Summary – Diversify How You Get Paid From Social Media

You worked hard for your following and social media influence. It only makes sense that you’d want to monetize your social media presence and use it as a tool to grow your business.

If you want to get paid from social media, make sure you’re serving and being authentic too. Share a mix of news, successes, along with setbacks and failures to better connect with your audience and show them what your business is about.

Image: Due.com

This article, "Secrets of Making More Money with Social Media Revealed" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Shopify SEO: The Guide to Optimizing Shopify

Posted by cml63

A trend we’ve been noticing at Go Fish Digital is that more and more of our clients have been using the Shopify platform. While we initially thought this was just a coincidence, we can see that the data tells a different story:

Graph Of Shopify Usage Statistics

The Shopify platform is now more popular than ever. Looking at BuiltWith usage statistics, we can see that usage of the CMS has more than doubled since July 2017. Currently, 4.47% of the top 10,000 sites are using Shopify.

Since we’ve worked with a good amount of Shopify stores, we wanted to share our process for common SEO improvements we help our clients with. The guide below should outline some common adjustments we make on Shopify stores.

What is Shopify SEO?

Shopify SEO simply means SEO improvements that are more unique to Shopify than other sites. While Shopify stores come with some useful things for SEO, such as a blog and the ability to redirect, it can also create SEO issues such as duplicate content. Some of the most common Shopify SEO recommendations are:

  • Remove duplicate URLs from internal linking architecture
  • Remove duplicate paginated URLs
  • Create blog content for keywords with informational intent
  • Add “Product,” “Article,” & “BreadcrumbList” structured data
  • Determine how to handle product variant pages
  • Compress images using crush.pics
  • Remove unnecessary Shopify apps

We’ll go into how we handle each of these recommendations below:

Duplicate content

In terms of SEO, duplicate content is the highest priority issue we’ve seen created by Shopify. Duplicate content occurs when either duplicate or similar content exists on two separate URLs. This creates issues for search engines as they might not be able to determine which of the two pages should be the canonical version. On top of this, often times link signals are split between the pages.

We’ve seen Shopify create duplicate content in several different ways:

  1. Duplicate product pages
  2. Duplicate collections pages through pagination

Duplicate product pages

Shopify creates this issue within their product pages. By default, Shopify stores allow their /products/ pages to render at two different URL paths:

  • Canonical URL path: /products/
  • Non-canonical URL path: /collections/.*/products/

Shopify accounts for this by ensuring that all /collections/.*/products/ pages include a canonical tag to the associated /products/ page. Notice how the URL in the address differs from the “canonical” field:

URL In Address Bar Is Different Than Canonical Link

While this certainly helps Google consolidate the duplicate content, a more alarming issue occurs when you look at the internal linking structure. By default, Shopify will link to the non-canonical version of all of your product pages.

Shopify collection page links to non-canonical URLs




As well, we’ve also seen Shopify link to the non-canonical versions of URLs when websites utilize “swatch” internal links that point to other color variants.

Thus, Shopify creates your entire site architecture around non-canonical links by default. This creates a high-priority SEO issue because the website is sending Google conflicting signals:

  1. “Here are the pages we internally link to the most often”
  2. “However, the pages we link to the most often are not the URLs we actually want to be ranking in Google. Please index these other URLs with few internal links”

While canonical tags are usually respected, remember Google does treat these as hints instead of directives. This means that you’re relying on Google to make a judgement about whether or not the content is duplicate each time that it crawls these pages. We prefer not to leave this up to chance, especially when dealing with content at scale.

Adjusting internal linking structure

Fortunately, there is a relatively easy fix for this. We’ve been able to work with our dev team to adjust the code in the product.grid-item.liquid file. Following those instructions will allow your Shopify site’s collections pages to point to the canonical /product/ URLs.

Duplicate collections pages

As well, we’ve seen many Shopify sites that create duplicate content through the site’s pagination. More specifically, a duplicate is created of the first collections page in a particular series. This is because once you're on a paginated URL in a series, the link to the first page will contain “?page=1”:

First page in Shopify pagination links to ?page=1 link

However, this will almost always be a duplicate page. A URL with “?page=1” will almost always contain the same content as the original non-parameterized URL. Once again, we recommend having a developer adjust the internal linking structure so that the first paginated result points to the canonical page.

Product variant pages

While this is technically an extension of Shopify’s duplicate content from above, we thought this warranted its own section because this isn’t necessarily always an SEO issue.

It’s not uncommon to see Shopify stores where multiple product URLs are created for the same product with slight variations. In this case, this can create duplicate content issues as often times the core product is the same, but only a slight attribute (color for instance) changes. This means that multiple pages can exist with duplicate/similar product descriptions and images. Here is an example of duplicate pages created by a variant: https://recordit.co/x6YRPkCDqG

If left alone, this once again creates an instance of duplicate content. However, variant URLs do not have to be an SEO issue. In fact, some sites could benefit from these URLs as they allow you to have indexable pages that could be optimized for very specific terms. Whether or not these are beneficial is going to differ on every site. Some key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Do your customers perform queries based on variant phrases?
  • Do you have the resources to create unique content for all of your product variants?
  • Is this content unique enough to stand on its own?

For a more in-depth guide, Jenny Halasz wrote a great article on determining the best course of action for product variations. If your Shopify store contains product variants, than it’s worth determining early on whether or not these pages should exist at a separate URL. If they should, then you should create unique content for every one and optimize each for that variant’s target keywords.

Crawling and indexing

After analyzing quite a few Shopify stores, we’ve found some SEO items that are unique to Shopify when it comes to crawling and indexing. Since this is very often an important component of e-commerce SEO, we thought it would be good to share the ones that apply to Shopify.

Robots.txt file

A very important note is that in Shopify stores, you cannot adjust the robots.txt file. This is stated in their official help documentation. While you can add the “noindex” to pages through the theme.liquid, this is not as helpful if you want to prevent Google from crawling your content all together.

An example robots.txt file in Shopify

Here are some sections of the site that Shopify will disallow crawling in:

  • Admin area
  • Checkout
  • Orders
  • Shopping cart
  • Internal search
  • Policies page

While it's nice that Shopify creates some default disallow commands for you, the fact that you cannot adjust the robots.txt file can be very limiting. The robots.txt is probably the easiest way to control Google’s crawl of your site as it's extremely easy to update and allows for a lot of flexibility. You might need to try other methods of adjusting Google’s crawl such as “nofollow” or canonical tags.

Adding the “noindex” tag

While you cannot adjust the robots.txt, Shopify does allow you to add the “noindex” tag. You can exclude a specific page from the index by adding the following code to your theme.liquid file.

As well, if you want to exclude an entire template, you can use this code:

Redirects

Shopify does allow you to implement redirects out-of-the-box, which is great. You can use this for consolidating old/expired pages or any other content that no longer exists. You can do this by going to Online Store > Navigation > URL Redirects.

So far, we havn't found a way to implement global redirects via Shopify. This means that your redirects will likely need to be 1:1.

Log files

Similar to the robots.txt, it’s important to note that Shopify does not provide you with log file information. This has been confirmed by Shopify support.

Structured data

Product structured data

Overall, Shopify does a pretty good job with structured data. Many Shopify themes should contain “Product” markup out-of-the-box that provides Google with key information such as your product’s name, description, price etc. This is probably the highest priority structured data to have on any e-commerce site, so it’s great that many themes do this for you.

Shopify sites might also benefit from expanding the Product structured data to collections pages as well. This involves adding the Product structured data to define each individual product link in a product listing page. The good folks at Distilled recommend including this structured data on category pages.

Every product in Shopify collections page marked up with Product structured data

Article structured data

As well, if you use Shopify’s blog functionality, you should use “Article” structured data. This is a fantastic schema type that lets Google know that your blog content is more editorial in nature. We’ve seen that Google seems to pull content with “Article” structured data into platforms such as Google Discover and the “Interesting Finds” sections in the SERPs. Ensuring your content contains this structured data may increase the chances your site’s content is included in these sections.

BreadcrumbList structured data

Finally, one addition that we routinely add to Shopify sites are breadcrumb internal links with BreadcrumbList structured data. We believe breadcrumbs are crucial to any e-commerce site, as they provide users with easy-to-use internal links that indicate where they’re at within the hierarchy of a website. As well, these breadcrumbs can help Google better understand the website’s structure. We typically suggest adding site breadcrumbs to Shopify sites and marking those up with BreadcrumbList structured data to help Google better understand those internal links.

Keyword research

Performing keyword research for Shopify stores will be very similar to the research you would perform for other e-commerce stores.

Some general ways to generate keywords are:

  • Export your keyword data from Google AdWords. Track and optimize for those that generate the most revenue for the site.
  • Research your AdWords keywords that have high conversion rates. Even if the volume is lower, a high conversion rate indicates that this keyword is more transactional.
  • Review the keywords the site currently gets clicks/impressions for in Google Search Console.
  • Research your high priority keywords and generate new ideas using Moz’s Keyword Explorer.
  • Run your competitors through tools like Ahrefs. Using the “Content Gap” report, you can find keyword opportunities where competitor sites are ranking but yours is not.
  • If you have keywords that use similar modifiers, you can use MergeWords to automatically generate a large variety of keyword variations.

Keyword optimization

Similar to Yoast SEO, Shopify does allow you to optimize key elements such as your title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs. Where possible, you should be using your target keywords in these elements.

To adjust these elements, you simply need to navigate to the page you wish to adjust and scroll down to “Search Engine Listing Preview”:

Optimization Options For Metadata in Shopify

Adding content to product pages

If you decide that each individual product should be indexed, ideally you’ll want to add unique content to each page. Initially, your Shopify products may not have unique on-page content associated with them. This is a common issue for Shopify stores, as oftentimes the same descriptions are used across multiple products or no descriptions are present. Adding product descriptions with on-page best practices will give your products the best chance of ranking in the SERPs.

However, we understand that it’s time-consuming to create unique content for every product that you offer. With clients in the past, we’ve taken a targeted approach as to which products to optimize first. We like to use the “Sales By Product” report which can help prioritize which are the most important products to start adding content to. You can find this report in Analytics > Dashboard > Top Products By Units Sold.

Shopify revenue by product report


By taking this approach, we can quickly identify some of the highest priority pages in the store to optimize. We can then work with a copywriter to start creating content for each individual product. Also, keep in mind that your product descriptions should always be written from a user-focused view. Writing about the features of the product they care about the most will give your site the best chance at improving both conversions and SEO.

Shopify blog

Shopify does include the ability to create a blog, but we often see this missing from a large number of Shopify stores. It makes sense, as revenue is the primary goal of an e-commerce site, so the initial build of the site is product-focused.

However, we live in an era where it’s getting harder and harder to rank product pages in Google. For instance, the below screenshot illustrates the top 3 organic results for the term “cloth diapers”:

SERP for "cloth diaper" keyword.

While many would assume that this is primarily a transactional query, we’re seeing Google is ranking two articles and a single product listing page in the top three results. This is just one instance of a major trend we’ve seen where Google is starting to prefer to rank more informational content above transactional.

By excluding a blog from a Shopify store, we think this results in a huge missed opportunity for many businesses. The inclusion of a blog allows you to have a natural place where you can create this informational content. If you’re seeing that Google is ranking more blog/article types of content for the keywords mapped to your Shopify store, your best bet is to go out and create that content yourself.

If you run a Shopify store (or any e-commerce site), we would urge you to take the following few steps:

  1. Identify your highest priority keywords
  2. Manually perform a Google query for each one
  3. Make note of the types of content Google is ranking on the first page. Is it primarily informational, transactional, or a mix of both?
  4. If you’re seeing primarily mixed or informational content, evaluate your own content to see if you have any that matches the user intent. If so, improve the quality and optimize.
  5. If you do not have this content, consider creating new blog content around informational topics that seems to fulfill the user intent

As an example, we have a client that was interested in ranking for the term “CRM software,” an extremely competitive keyword. When analyzing the SERPs, we found that Google was ranking primarily informational pages about “What Is CRM Software?” Since they only had a product page that highlighted their specific CRM, we suggested the client create a more informational page that talked generally about what CRM software is and the benefits it provides. After creating and optimizing the page, we soon saw a significant increase in organic traffic (credit to Ally Mickler):

The issue that we see on many Shopify sites is that there is very little focus on informational pages despite the fact that those perform well in the search engines. Most Shopify sites should be using the blogging platform, as this will provide an avenue to create informational content that will result in organic traffic and revenue.

Apps

Similar to WordPress’s plugins, Shopify offers “Apps” that allow you to add advanced functionality to your site without having to manually adjust the code. However, unlike WordPress, most of the Shopify Apps you’ll find are paid. This will require either a one-time or monthly fee.

Shopify apps for SEO

While your best bet is likely teaming up with a developer who's comfortable with Shopify, here are some Shopify apps that can help improve the SEO of your site.

  • Crush.pics: A great automated way of compressing large image files. Crucial for most Shopify sites as many of these sites are heavily image-based.
  • JSON-LD for SEO: This app may be used if you do not have a Shopify developer who is able to add custom structured data to your site.
  • Smart SEO: An app that can add meta tags, alt tags, & JSON-LD
  • Yotpo Reviews: This app can help you add product reviews to your site, making your content eligible for rich review stars in the SERPs.

Is Yoast SEO available for Shopify?

Yoast SEO is exclusively a WordPress plugin. There is currently no Yoast SEO Shopify App.

Limiting your Shopify apps

Similar to WordPress plugins, Shopify apps will inject additional code onto your site. This means that adding a large number of apps can slow down the site. Shopify sites are especially susceptible to bloat, as many apps are focused on improving conversions. Often times, these apps will add more JavaScript and CSS files which can hurt page load times. You’ll want to be sure that you regularly audit the apps you’re using and remove any that are not adding value or being utilized by the site.

Client results

We’ve seen pretty good success in our clients that use Shopify stores. Below you can find some of the results we’ve been able to achieve for them. However, please note that these case studies do not just include the recommendations above. For these clients, we have used a combination of some of the recommendations outlined above as well as other SEO initiatives.

In one example, we worked with a Shopify store that was interested in ranking for very competitive terms surrounding the main product their store focused on. We evaluated their top performing products in the “Sales by product” report. This resulted in a large effort to work with the client to add new content to their product pages as they were not initially optimized. This combined with other initiatives has helped improve their first page rankings by 113 keywords (credit to Jennifer Wright & LaRhonda Sparrow).

Graph of first-page keyword rankings over time

In another instance, a client came to us with an issue that they were not ranking for their branded keywords. Instead, third-party retailers that also carried their products were often outranking them. We worked with them to adjust their internal linking structure to point to the canonical pages instead of the duplicate pages created by Shopify. We also optimized their content to better utilize the branded terminology on relevant pages. As a result, they’ve seen a nice increase in overall rankings in just several months time.

Graph of total ranking improvements over time.

Moving forward

As Shopify usage continues to grow, it will be increasingly important to understand the SEO implications that come with the platform. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with additional knowledge that will help make your Shopify store stronger in the search engines.


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An Introduction to Persuasive Advertising vs. Informative Advertising

Out of all the entertaining ads that played during Super Bowl 53, there’s only one commercial that I woke up thinking about the next morning: Pepsi’s “More Than OK”.

“More Than OK” poked fun at how Pepsi usually takes a back seat to Coke, especially at restaurants. And by featuring a star-studded cast that included Steve Carell, Lil Jon, and Cardi-B (who hilariously and fervently backed up Pepsi’s OKness) their boldness to call people out for undermining Pepsi’s quality got a lot of laughs and persuaded a massive audience to reconsider their own perception of the soft drink.

As marketers, we know that if we want to persuade an audience, we need to evoke an emotional response from them. But how do you actually do that? Below, we’ll examine six persuasive advertising techniques you can use in your advertisements, five examples you can reference if you ever need some inspiration, and three informative advertisement examples that are surprisingly just as compelling as the persuasive advertising examples.

1. The Carrot and The Stick

Humans are hardwired to move towards pleasure, like a horse towards a carrot, and away from pain, like a donkey avoids a stick. When people read or watch your advertisements, "carrots", or promises of gain, can fill your prospects with hope and compel them to pursue that potential feeling of pleasure. "Sticks", possibilities of loss, evoke fear in your prospects, which will compel them to flee from that potential feeling of pain.

Both tactics can pull your prospects into a narrative and evoke emotions that inspire your desired action. Carrots, like a product’s benefit, entice people to take a desired action. Sticks, on the other hand, like anti-smoking campaigns, evoke fear in people to stop doing a certain action and start doing the alternative. To better understand how to craft advertisements that feature a carrot or stick, check out these insurance copywriting examples below.

Carrot: “15 minutes could save you 15% on car insurance.” -- Geico

Stick: “Get All-State. You can save money and be better protected from Mayhem like me. ” -- All-State

As you can see, Geico's ad uses a small time investment that could potentially produce big gains as a lure to get you to buy their product. Conversely, All-State’s ad uses the character “Mayhem” to evoke fear into people to stop using their “inferior” insurance and start using All-State’s.

2. The Scarcity Principle

People value objects and experiences that are rare -- having something that most people want, but can’t have, boosts our sense of self-worth and power. If you use words and phrases that imply scarcity and evoke a sense of urgency, like “Exclusive offer” or “Limited availability”, you can skyrocket your product’s perceived scarcity and consumer demand.

3. One Message Per Advertisement

To immediately hook people and persuade them to read or watch the rest of your advertisement, try sticking to only one message. Spotlighting your product or offer’s main benefit or feature will make it easy for your customers to understand its value and increase the likelihood of their conversion because you’re only conveying one message to your audience: your product’s main feature will benefit your customer’s life somehow, someway.

4. Write in the Second Person

Since your prospects primarily care about how you can help them, and pronouns like “you” and “your" can engage them on a personal level and help them insert themselves in the narrative you’re creating, writing advertisements in the second person can instantly grip their attention and help them imagine a future with your product or service bettering their lives.

5. Give Your Audience a Sense of Control

According to a research study conducted by three psychology professors at Rutgers University, the need for control is a biological and psychological necessity. People have to feel like they have control over their lives.

If you want to give your audience a sense of control, you need to give them the ability to choose. In other words, after reading or watching your advertisement, they must feel like they can choose between the option you suggest or another path. If they feel like you’re trying to force them to buy your product, they’ll get annoyed and disengage from your message.

To give your audience the ability to choose, and in turn, a sense of control, use phrases like “Feel free” or “No pressure” in your advertisements, like this example from Hotwire.com below.

6. Use a Call-to-Value Instead of a Call-to-Action

Call-to-actions are crucial for getting prospects to take the next step, but a “Download Now” or “Call Now” CTA isn’t always going to convince the more skeptical prospects to take your desired action. You need to make sure your ad’s last line of copy or quip is the best of them all.

So instead of writing an uninspiring, final line of copy like “Download Now”, write one that clearly communicates your offer’s value and gives a glimpse into your prospects’ potential life if they take your desired action, like this call-to-value prompting readers to download a blogging eBook: “Click today and be a blogger tomorrow.”

Persuasive Advertising Examples

1. Nikol

Persuasive Advertising - Nikol Paper Towls

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

Showing -- not telling -- your audience about your product’s benefits is one of the best ways to capture attention and get an emotional response. Obviously, Nikol’s paper towels can’t actually turn grapes into raisins, but this ad highlights the product's absorbent powers in a such a clear and clever way, they didn’t need write a single line of copy.

2. Heinz

Persuasive Advertising - Heinz

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

In relation to food, the word “hot” has multiple meanings: having a high temperature and being spicy. Heinz brilliantly used the connotation of high temperature to highlight the spiciness of their ketchup, and their creative method of communicating the value of their product helped them instantly attract people’s attention.

3. Mondo Pasta

Persuasive Advertising - Mondo Pasta

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

With this crafty use of guerrilla marketing, Mondo Pasta perfectly aligns their copy with their creative -- the guy slurping the noodle literally "can’t let go" because its a rope tied to a dock. By designing such a visual, unexpected, and literal ad with a seemingly one-dimensional prop, people’s eyes can’t let go of this ad either.

4. Bic

Persuasive Advertising - Bic

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

Another example of guerrilla marketing, Bic takes advantage of an unkept field to highlight the power of their razors. By just mowing a small strip of grass on a field, this ad is an unconventional, simple, and extremely creative way to catch people’s attention and spotlight a razor’s shaving capabilities.

5. Siemens

Persuasive Advertising - Siemens

Image Credit: Brilliant Ads

Siemens’ skillful ad shows the benefits of their product by unexpectedly placing their washers and dryers in a library to show you that they’re so quiet, even a librarian wouldn’t need to shush them.

1. Drink Responsibly

Informative Advertising - Drink Responsibly

Image Credit: Bloggs74

Even though this ad might seem like it’s only aiming to evoke fear in its target audience, it actually leans on the facts to get their message across. If you drink and drive, your risk of crashing skyrockets 11 fold. And by focusing on this alarming reality, this ad can persuade people to get an Uber or Lyft home after a night out instead of getting behind the wheel.

2. Miller Lite

Persuasive Advertising - Miller Lite
Image Credit:  Miller Lite

After Bud Light took some jabs at Miller Lite for using corn syrup in their beer during their Super Bowl 53 ads, Miller Lite decided to throw a few punches back. A day later on Twitter, they revealed that their beer actually has less calories and carbs than Bud Light, which helped them persuade people that drinking Bud Light and Miller Lite actually have similar health benefits.

3. Siskiyou Eye Center

Informative Advertising - Siskiyou Eye Center
Image Credit:  Entractech

There’s an old folk tale that carrots can improve your eyesight, but science has actually debunked this myth. That’s why this Siskiyou Eye Center ad is such a creative informative advertisement. While it pokes fun at this common fable, it’s still relying on the facts of carrots not being able to improve your vision and the Eye Center’s ability to provide quality treatment for your eyes to persuade people to do business with them.

Persuasive advertising vs. informative advertising: which one is better?

Persuasive advertising and informative advertising definitely focus on different aspects of persuasion, but they still aim to achieve the same goal: convincing your audience to take a desired action. So whether you pursue one advertising strategy or another, remember that if you can trigger an emotional response, regardless of the stimuli, your ad will be a success.



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Pinterest Academy Helps Businesses Pin Better with Online Courses

Pinterest Academy Helps Businesses Pin Better with Online Courses

The popular visual sharing and discovery platform Pinterest is launching its first eLearning program. It’s called the Pinterest Academy. Businesses can access this free e-learning tool from anywhere in the world and on any device. Through a series of online courses, business can learn how to connect their audience on Pinterest. And how to boost Pinterest practices to optimize success.

As of September 2018, 250 million people used Pinterest every month. This includes 77.4 million Americans. As a result, five million more used the platform than in 2017. Pinterest outranks other social media platforms, for example Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and WhatsApp. As a result, Pinterest is the fourth most popular social media platform in the United States.

Giving the growing popularity of Pinterest, small businesses can’t afford to ignore the visual sharing site. And they also need to learn to use it at its optimum.

What is Pinterest Academy?

The Pinterest Academy eLearning program teaches businesses how to connect with their audience on Pinterest. For example, businesses learn to create compelling adverts, design striking Pins and measure success. As a result, it provides opportunities for small businesses to perfect the art of using Pinterest to their competitive advantage.

As Colleen Stauffer, Global Business Marketing specialist at Pinterest, said in a blog about the rolling out of Pinterest Academy:

“Pinterest Academy is a series of fun, smart online courses you can access from anywhere on any device. Go through them at your own pace, learning how to connect with your audience on Pinterest. You’ll learn how to connect with your audience on Pinterest. You’ll get information on how to design Pins, inspire visual discovery and incorporate Pinterest best practices.”

The series of nine courses, informs business users of how to use Pinterest Business for their business and their clients. The first five courses provide a basic overview of Pinterest, including creative inspiration, narrative, strategy, campaign objectives and targeting and buying.

The last four sessions offer a more hands-on approach. For example, they walk businesses through the steps involved in setting up a Pinterest Business account and then plan, launch and measure the success of their campaign.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "Pinterest Academy Helps Businesses Pin Better with Online Courses" was first published on Small Business Trends



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