Sourcing Visual Content for Social Use

Sourcing Visual Content for Social Use
Want to stand out from the social media crowd? Images, animated GIFs and video can significantly increase content engagement. Research has shown that including images in tweets can increase click-throughs by 18 percent. Even better, using animated GIFs over images can boost Twitter click-throughs by 167 percent.

Video makes a huge difference as well. Ninety percent of consumers consider product videos useful in the decision-making process, and 92 percent will share videos with their contacts. In other words, video content can help you generate leads.

Choosing What to Use
Users appreciate funny or thought-provoking content, such as stand-alone graphics featuring humorous messages or inspirational quotes. It’s the latest trend among brands leveraging social media.

The type of visual content you use will depend on your target audience. You can create your own content, but if you don’t have the time or resources, you’ll have no problem finding stock photos, animated GIFs, videos and infographics online.

Free Stock Photography
There are several resources that allow you to use images for free and with little to no restrictions, such as these:

  • MyStockPhotos — These artsy stock photos are available for personal and commercial use.
  • Gratisography — This free site offers high-resolution photography with new additions added weekly.
  • Raumrot — This lifestyle imagery is free for commercial use.

Paid Image Sources
If you’d like a broader selection, a paid photography resource may be your best bet:

  • Shutterstock — This well-known library is full of photos, vectors, illustrations, icons, footage and music.
  • Getty Images — Photographers around the globe contribute to this high-quality collection.

Whatever you choose, make the most of your visual content so you can resonate and engage with social media followers.

How to Use Video Content Effectively

How to Use Video Content Effectively

Video may not be new, but its creation, consumption and reach continue to grow at a significant rate. Here’s a look at a few insightful statistics, as well as tips for using video to your advantage.

By the Numbers

  • Watching video accounts for one-third of all online activity, with the average user seeing approximately 32 videos per month.
  • Ninety percent of consumers consider product videos helpful in making purchasing decisions, and 40 percent say it increases their chances of making a purchase via their mobile device.
  • Companies that use video enjoy 41 percent more web traffic than those that don’t, and video has been shown to increase organic search traffic by 157 percent.
  • Video on social media generates 1200 percent more shares than both images and text combined.

Video Content Strategy
Now that you see how useful video can be, it’s time to establish a game plan. Start with the following tips:

  • Set goals. Create videos with purpose, and strive to add value by entertaining, inspiring or educating. When your videos strike a chord, your audience will remember and share.
  • Explore your options. Video can be approached in a number of effective ways, depending on the circumstances. For example, use 360-degree video for virtual tours and product demos. Statistics show these result in 28.81 percent more views than the same content in standard video format.
  • Keep your videos short and sweet. More than half of users access the internet solely via mobile devices, and 90 percent of Twitter videos are watched on them as well. To appeal to viewers, make your content quick and easy to consume.
  • Add videos to your website. Video on a home page can increase conversions by more than 20 percent, and adding video to landing pages can boost conversions by 80 percent or more.

How to Increase Email Subscribers

How to Increase Email Subscribers
Email marketing may seem like yesterday’s news, but it continues to generate impressive returns on investment (ROI). In fact, U.S. businesses see an average 4,300 percent ROI on email marketing. Learning why it works so well can help you increase your subscriber list.

The Email Advantage
Email marketing provides a direct line of communication to your audience. It works differently than social media marketing, where platform algorithms limit your reach and posts are often lost in a hectic news feed. That’s likely why email is 40 times more effective at generating leads than Facebook or Twitter.

Email is also highly customizable. Personalized email subject lines are 26 percent more likely to be opened, and segmented campaigns can increase revenue by 760 percent. Plus, email is the perfect tool for nurturing customer relationships, building long-term loyalty and driving web traffic.

Developing a Strong List
The bigger the email list, the greater the reach. But don’t get ahead of yourself. When building your list of contacts, it’s important to focus on quality and relevance first and let the volume grow organically. Here are a few tips:

  • Start with the clients you have on file.
  • Create content that appeals to your contacts and can be leveraged online, including your blog, website and social media.
  • Use email forwarding and social sharing buttons so subscribers and followers can easily share your content.
  • Resist the urge to purchase email lists. While it’s an easy way to build volume, it reduces list quality and can land your emails directly in spam folders.

Aim to create compelling content that goes to a well-curated contact list. It’s your best bet for effective email marketing.

Cloud Computing and Its Benefits

Cloud Computing and Its Benefits
If you’ve used Google, Apple’s iCloud or an online streaming service like YouTube, you’ve enjoyed the benefits of the cloud whether you knew it or not. But how does it work and where is it? Here’s a simple breakdown to help you better understand.

What is the cloud?
Consider the cloud a metaphor for the internet. Using the cloud means you’re storing and accessing data online via an internet connection rather than a physical hard drive. This technology allows people around the world to access data simultaneously through a variety of applications.

Why is the cloud beneficial?
The cloud eliminates the need for portable hard drives, USB flash drives and floppy disks when it’s time to transfer data. All you need is an internet connection.

Cloud storage also helps keep your files secure. For example, a stolen or damaged hard drive means a complete loss of photos, documents and more. But if you’re automatically syncing your data and storing it in the cloud, you have a remote backup should something go wrong.

The cloud takes some of the strain off your personal computer or laptop. Rather than use programs that require a lot of space on the hard drive, such as a word processor, cloud users can find the same functionality online with services like Google Docs.

Is your data safe in the cloud?
Dedicated cloud services invest in cyber security. Most high-profile breaches that make the news are the result of poorly built in-house storage systems. Users often put their data at risk with easily deciphered passwords and disabled security options.

Want to protect your data further? Take advantage of security features built into your mobile devices, use complex passwords for every device and website, and change your passwords often.

Making the Most of Pay-Per-Click Ads

SEO, SEM, PPC: The acronym soup of online marketing can get confusing. Search engine marketing (SEM) uses paid advertisements to reach the top of the results page when potential clients search for your products and services. Where search engine optimization (SEO) can take months to gain traction and produce organic results, SEM — also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising — can make an immediate impact.

How Paid Ads Work
SEM advertisements appear clearly labeled as “ads” at the top or to the side of search results pages. They only cost you if someone clicks through to your landing page.

How often your ads appear depends on a combination of factors. Advertisers bid on keywords, which are assigned a quality score by the search engine based on relevance. The score helps the search engine provide the best possible results to users rather than push the highest bidder.

SEM Best Practices

  • SEO plays a vital role in the success of search engine marketing. If your website isn’t relevant to the keywords you bid on, your quality score will take a hit and your ads won’t appear as often.
  • Choose keywords wisely. While you’re not paying for ads to display, you will be wasting money if search users are clicking through on irrelevant key terms. If you’re not sure where to start, try Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner.
  • Optimize your campaigns so your landing pages are relevant to the keywords you’ve selected.
  • Target your advertisements. Depending on your business, this may mean showing ads in defined geographic locations, during specific times of the day or on particular devices.
  • A/B testing can help you pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t so you can adjust accordingly.

Dipping your toes into unknown waters can be intimidating, but with a little education and effort, you can put search engine marketing to work for your business.

Matt Cotten & Associates Becomes a Bigcommerce Expert Partner

Clouds in the sky

Chicago, IL — Matt Cotten & Associates announced an agreement with Bigcommerce, the leading ecommerce platform for small and medium sized businesses (SMBs), to join the Bigcommerce Partner Program as a Reseller. Matt Cotten & Associates, a leader in Chicago website design, was selected by Bigcommerce to provide design and integration services to their customers utilizing the Bigcommerce platform. The agreement gives Reseller a new level of service and support to continue to offer the award-­winning Bigcommerce platform, delivering the leading e-commerce platform for small businesses to their customers along with the tools necessary to manage all aspects of online retail. As a Bigcommerce Partner, Matt Cotten & Associates will have access to some awesome benefits from Bigcommerce, including:

  • Co-­marketing materials and promotional pieces
  • Reseller’s assigned Bigcommerce Partner Development Executive who will provide ongoing reviews and product training
  • New commission options
  • Joint social media and PR initiatives

“We are extremely pleased to have Matt Cotten & Associates join our partner program as a Reseller,” said Simon Clarkson, Director of Channel Sales for Bigcommerce. ”We realize the tremendous value our partners bring to Bigcommerce and are committed to providing them with a fully encompassing program that supports their efforts and contributes to their ultimate success. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Reseller to jointly deliver the best ecommerce platform in the world to online retailers.” “Bigcommerce is the leader in e­commerce,” said Matt Cotten. “We are fully equipped with the solution customers demand: an easy-­to-­use platform that’s flexible and fully customizable to create beautiful online stores. We are pleased to team with Bigcommerce to help our customers sell more.”

About Partner

Matt Cotten & Associates Located in Chicago, IL For more information visit

About Bigcommerce

Bigcommerce is the leading e-­commerce platform for SMBs, enabling them to easily launch professional online stores in hours, not weeks or months. Existing clients Gibson Guitar, Pandora Jewelers, Willie Nelson’s Shop and others are using Bigcommerce’s built-­in ecommerce and marketing capabilities to sell more with less effort. Bigcommerce was founded in 2009 by two Aussies turned part-­time Texans with a vision to build a scalable, powerful ecommerce platform for SMBs. For more information, visit