What is an SSL Certificate and How It Can Help Your Website

You might be wondering: “Why is my website showing up as an unsecured site in Google Chrome?”

The answer is because you don’t have an SSL certificate that converts your pages into secure, encrypted HTTPS pages.

Some people may think that there’s no need for an SSL certificate if your website isn’t used to store or process sensitive information, or that an HTTP protocol is enough.

That may have been the case a decade ago, but it simply doesn’t hold true today.

When visitors see the “Not secure” tag that comes along with the lack of an SSL certificate, they’ll be less likely to stay on your site or interact with your company.

Or buy anything from you at all.

In this post, we’re going to cover what an SSL certificate is and how it can be used to help your website.

So what does SSL stand for, anyway?

What is an SSL Certificate?

SSL certificates are data files that add a cryptographic key together with a company’s details. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.

In layman’s terms, SSL certificates bind a domain name, server name, or hostname together with a company name and location.

When they’re installed on a web server, they activate a padlock that shows that a secure connection is present between a browser and the web server.

These padlocks, which are added to most of your favorite websites, look something like this:

SSL padlocks in chrome

They signify to site visitors that the owner of a website is encrypting connections on the page, which makes for a more secure experience.

Usually, SSLs can be used to secure transactions, logins, and data transfer. In today’s world, it has become commonplace for social media sites to have SSL certificates, too.

Twitter has one:

twitter SSL padlock

Facebook has one:

facebook SSL padlock

And even Reddit has one:

reddit SSL padlock

When you open an SSL certificate up, it usually looks something like this:

SSL certificate information

This particular certificate lists who it was issued to, who it was issued by, and the dates that it is valid from and to. This one is valid until 2019.

That way, site visitors won’t have to second guess if your web page is safe, secure, or legitimate.

The bottom line? If you want your site to be trustworthy, you’ll need an SSL certificate.

Here’s how an SSL certificate works.

How Does an SSL Work

When you access a website, the browser or server requests that your web server reveals it’s identity.

A web server with an SSL certificate sends the browser or server a copy of it for review.

Then, the browser or server will check to determine whether or not it trusts the certificate. If it does, it relays the message back to the web server.

Then, the web server sends back a digitally signed acknowledgment and an SSL encrypted session begins.

Encrypted, secured data is then shared between the browser or server and the web server.

how SSL works

The benefits to using SSL certificates are huge. For starters, SSL makes browsing safer for your customers, builds trust and boosts conversions, and protects both internal and customer data.

They also help you rank higher in Google since they’re made possible with HTTPS.

But what is HTTPS and why is it important?

Why HTTPS?

HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is an application layer protocol that was created to transfer and receive data over the internet.

In comparison to plain old Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP, HTTPS encrypts all communication between a browser and a website.

difference between http and https

HTTP does not. The added S in HTTPS is much more than a letter.

This means that data sent through an HTTPS connection is converted into a nearly impenetrable code to prevent unauthorized hackers from getting their hands on it.

And even if they do, they won’t be able to understand it or make sense of it. Encryption can take a simple message, like “hello” and turn it into an unidentifiable code, like “6EB6957008E03CE4.”

An application layer protocol doesn’t discriminate when it comes to how information is transferred between sources, so your site visitors will all be treated with equal security.

HTTPS is commonly used by e-commerce websites in order to ensure secure transactions for customers when purchasing products.

Let’s take a closer look at the importance and advantages of the HTTPS protocol that SSL certificates provide.

The Importance and Advantages of SSL

Google’s main goal is to provide users with secure browsing options. That’s why they’re encouraging site owners to make the switch over to HTTPS.

In fact, Google is now marking all non-HTTPS sites as unsecure.

http not secure

And if you’re selling products or services from your site, an HTTPS seal of approval could help you sell even more.

secure credit card payment

Think about it: would you hesitate if you were ready to buy something and you saw a header like “Secure payment?” Probably not.

But if you saw something on a checkout page mentioning that things were “not secure,” you’d probably be gone faster than a toupee in a hurricane.

Once you have an SSL certificate and an HTTPS protocol, don’t be afraid to show it off to your customers and boast about it to help boost sales and transparency.

HTTPS can also help your SEO and conversions.

How SSL Can Help Your SEO And Conversions

Google rewards URLs with HTTPS protocols for being secure, which gives them a minor SEO boost in comparison to sites without them.

This means increased rankings and more referral data.

Referral data is preserved when it passes through HTTPS sites, which can also help to increase your search engine placements.

ssl advantages

Rankings will continue to increase over time if your site operates on HTTPS since visitors can always rest assured that browsing on your site is secure.

But there are several different types of SSL certificates you should be aware of.

Types of SSL Certificates

When choosing an SSL certificate, you need to pick the one that works best for you and your site.

There are three main types of SSL certificates.

  1. Domain Validated (DV SSL) Certificates
  2. Organization Validated (OV SSL) Certificates
  3. Extended Validation (EV SSL) Certificates

DV SSL certificates are issued almost immediately, and no company paperwork is required to obtain one.

No company identity is displayed on this type of SSL certificate other than encryption information, but it is enough to activate the “secure” padlock on your URL.

activated padlock secure https

While there’s no questioning that your information will be encrypted when visiting a site with a DV SSL certificate, there’s no way for customers to verify who is on the other end of the data.

These certificates are the easiest and quickest to get, and they’re also the cheapest. But they’re the least secure of all SSL certificates.

If you just have a small personal website or forum that needs some added encryption, a DV SSL certificate is a solid choice.

OV SSL certificates are more secure than DV SSL certificates but less secure than EV SSL certificates. They’re also usually right in the middle of the two when it comes to cost, as well.

They are issued within a couple of days and require you to:

  • Authenticate your organization
  • Prove your right to request a certification

When you obtain an OV SSL certificate, the “secure” padlock will be added to your URL, as well as some kind of site seal, depending on where you purchase it from.

ssl provider seals

If you have a large, public-facing website that handles some non-sensitive transactional data on a regular basis, an OV SSL is a good certificate to go with.

EV SSL certificates, on the other hand, require several steps before they can be obtained. To get an EV SSL certificate, you must usually:

  • Verify the legal existence of your company
  • Verify that the identity of your company matches official records
  • Verify that your company has the right to use the domain listed in the EV SSL certificate
  • Verify that your company has authorized the issuance of the SSL certificate

EV SSL certificates are harder to get in comparison to other types, but they are more secure than DV SSL and OV SSL certificates.

You know exactly who is on the other end of the website with this kind of certificate.

These certificates are usually issued within several days and are the most expensive to obtain. The company name is displayed in the URL next to the “secure” padlock.

digicert SSL

Your address bar may also turn green.

If you are an e-commerce site or you handle credit card payments and other sensitive data regularly, you need an EV SSL for maximum security.

How do you know what the best SSL certificate is for you?

What’s the Best SSL Certificate?

While all three different kinds of SSL certificates are better than no certificate, you have to pick the one that works the best for your budget and site needs.

Most sites that offer SSL certificates, like GoDaddy, Cloudflare, and Comodo, offer all three.

Let’s analyze GoDaddy first.

GoDaddy

All SSL certificates from GoDaddy include SHA-2 and 2048-bit encryption, which is about the strongest out there on the market today.

With a certificate from GoDaddy, you’ll be able to protect unlimited servers, reissue your certificate as many times as needed for free, and reach 24/7 security support.

You’ll also receive as much as $1 million in liability protection and a 30-day money back guarantee.

A DV SSL is $59.99 a year, an OV SSL is $103.99 per year, and an EV SSL is $99.99 per year.

comparison of types of SSL

With Cloudflare, you can get a base SSL for a more affordable price.

Cloudflare

With Cloudflare, you can get the base SSL service for free. There’s no hidden details or fine print.

For more advanced features or SSL certificates, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.

All that you need to implement Cloudflare’s SSL services is create an account and update your site’s DNS records.

Cloudflare’s HTTPS options provide additional services beyond regular HTTS that can help you boost page loading times and site speed.

Cloudflare serves your site visitors a cached version of your site to help make it faster for users.

However, SSL with Cloudflare only encrypts the connection between site visitors and the cached version of your site.

It doesn’t encrypt the connection that exists between your site and your server.

cloudflare ssl

This means that your server connection could still be hacked.

If you want a full SSL certificate complete with encryption for your server, you might have to pay as much as $200 per month per domain for Cloudflare’s Business plan.

cloudflare ssl pricing

Other features included in the Business package include a web application firewall, prioritized email support, and guaranteed 100% uptime for your website.

Comodo SSL certificates are a bit more secure than Cloudflare.

Comodo

A DV SSL certificate from Comodo will set you back about $70.95 per year. A warranty level of $10,000 is included.

OV SSL certificates can cost anywhere from $88.95 to $427.95 per year, depending on the one you choose. Warranty levels are anywhere from $50,000 to $250,000 for this SSL.

An EV SSL is $199.50 per year and includes a warranty level of $1,750,000.

Every SSL certificate from Comodo features 128/256 bit encryption, 2048 bit root keys, unlimited reissuance and a 30-day money back guarantee,

Each certificate features HackerGuardian PCI scanning service, as well.

hacker guardian comodo ssl

Once you decide on the SSL certificate that works best for you, get ready to install it.

How to Install an SSL Certificate

Installing an SSL certificate might sound intimidating, but it isn’t anything to be afraid of. Start off by purchasing the SSL certificate of your choice.

1) Purchase the SSL certificate

Be sure to only purchase an SSL certificate from a reputable source.

After all, you don’t want to compromise your company’s security, so don’t just purchase an SSL certificate from anywhere.

You will probably need to upload a copy of your Certificate Signing Request (CSR) when you order the SSL certificate of your choosing.

A finished CSR should look something like this:

begin ssl certificate request

You can find a list of all CSR creation instructions for nearly every platform and operating system here.

Once you’ve purchased your SSL certificate, you’re ready to activate it.

2) Activate it

The method used to activate your SSL certificate will depend on where you ultimately decide to purchase it from. Sometimes, your web host will activate your SSL for you.

For example, if you purchase an SSL from GoDaddy, you’ll have to log into your account, head to “SSL Certificates” and click “Set up.”

set up godaddy ssl

Once you refresh the page, you should see your new and ready to use certificate.

When you have activated your certificate, you should validate it.

3) Validate the certificate

Before you officially begin to use an SSL certificate, you need to diagnose any issues with it.

Use an SSL Checker tool like this one from SSL Shopper to validate your certificate.

ssl checker

Next, install the certificate on your hosting server if it hasn’t already been done by your web host.

4) Install the certificate on the hosting server

The process for installing your certificate on your hosting server will depend on where you’ve built your site.

For example, if you’ve used Duda to build your website, you can navigate over to “Site Settings” and click “Site SSL” to set up a certificate.

click site SSL

Then, click “Generate certificate.”

Note that your SSL certificate should never be removed unless you manually take it off of your site.

Once your SSL certificate is up and running, you need to set up 301 redirects and check your links.

5) Set up 301 redirects and check the links

If you have old google links or dated links to your pages on other sites, you need to set up a redirect so that HTTP requests can be changed to HTTPS ones.

You can do this by adding the following code to the top of your .htcaaccess file located in your root folder:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
RewriteRule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

Once you’ve added that code, double check that your site is still working well and that requests are being redirected to the new version of your URLs.

You can also use HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) to force all connections to become HTTPS links all at once.

http strict transport security

All you have to do is add the code to your site.

For example, if you have an Apache web server, you can add the following code to your .htaaccess file:

# Use HTTP Strict Transport Security to force client to use secure connections only Header always set Strict-Transport-Security “max-age=300; includeSubDomains; preload”

Here’s how to view SSL certificates in Chrome.

How to View SSL Certificates in Chrome

To view SSL certificates for any site (including your own) in Chrome, open Developer tools.

developer tools in chrome

From there, head to the Security tab and click “View certificate.”

view certificate security overview

Then, the full certificate should appear for your viewing.

google ssl certificate

Finally, you need to test your HTTPS to make sure that all web elements are as secure as possible.

Testing your HTTPS

The easiest and fastest way to verify that your HTTPS is working is to head to your website and verify that you see HTTPS: before your site name.

http vs https in browser

If you want a more in-depth test, use an advanced SSL-Check tool like this one from JitBit.

ssl check with root URL

This tool will crawl an entire HTTPS website (and even it’s internal links) to uncover unsecure images, scripts or CSS files that trigger unsecure warnings in browsers.

You can crawl 200 pages of your site for free using the tool if you tweet about it, which is a pretty small price to pay for zero cost HTTPS testing.

Conclusion

If your site is marked as unsecure, you’re losing valuable site visitors every minute.

An SSL certificate can help, since it verifies and encrypts your website, making your pages safe for both you and your customers.

If you think you can avoid getting an SSL certificate, you’re wrong. The HTTPS protocol that SSLs provide is vital if you want to build a trusted and reputable site.

HTTPS tags show up with a padlock and a “secure” tag in visitors’ browsers, notifying them that your site is legit.

And HTTPS can help your SEO and conversions, since HTTPs pages are proven to have higher rankings and more referral data.

There are three different types of SSL certificates to choose from.

These include Domain Validated (DV SSL) Certificates, Organization Validated (OV SSL) Certificates, and Extended Validation (EV SSL) Certificates.

DV SSLs offer the least amount of security, while OV SSLs are more secure. EV SSLs are the most secure form of SSL certificate.

Choose an SSL certificate that works best for you, your company, and your budget.

If you want a reasonably priced SSL with high encryption, try GoDaddy. With Cloudflare, you can get a free DV SSL extension, but it may not be as secure as other certificates out there.

Comodo offers a wider variety of certificates than GoDaddy with similar encryption. However, they’re a bit more expensive.

To install an SSL certificate, you’ll have to purchase one from a trusted source, first.

Then, activate it and validate it. Install the certificate on your hosting server and set up 301 redirects to your new HTTPS URLs. Don’t forget to check the links.

If you want to view SSL certificates in Chrome, you can open them up for any site you visit using Developer Tools.

Finally, to test your HTTPS, use an advanced SSL Checker like the one created by JitBit. Double check that your URLs have a secure padlock, too, just in case.

Which type of SSL certificate are you going to add to your website?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

Source: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/what-is-ssl/

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Why Live Video Is Your Next Big Win (and How to Start Dominating Today)

Live video commands the attention of the business world.

Projections show that live streaming will be worth a staggering $70.05 billion by 2021.

Unlike ever before, people have a means of interacting with their favorite brands. They can do this at the exact moment that those brands are reaching out.

This means that potential customers can (and often do) direct the action.

Here’s the good news:

You can use live video to engage your customers at the starting price of $0.

So, what’s stopping you from jumping in and using live video, too?

If you’re like most beginners, you’re stuck on choosing which platform is best for your needs. Luckily, live video is versatile, and most platforms are quick and easy to set up.

You can use Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, or a variety of other platforms.

Your platform of choice will largely depend on your target audience. Once you choose your platform, live streaming is simple. You’ll be crushing video in no time.

And I’m happy to teach you how. But first, you need to understand a little bit about how live video works.

What is live video?

Video content has proven itself to be some of the most compelling content on the Internet in 2018.

Streaming is in demand.

people want more video content according to survey

In fact, projections show that video will account for 82% of all web traffic by 2021.

Why?

Live streaming taps into a uniquely human affinity for sharing and storytelling.

video is worth 1.8 million word per minute

But what differentiates regular video from live video?

Live video is video that a user broadcasts live to an audience of real people engaging in the same exact space.

The hook is that, instead of it being like TV or similar broadcasted video platforms, this iteration of live video goes through social media.

And on social media, people can have an active conversation with the broadcaster.

Live video streams are commonly buzzing with comments and discussions that build a feeling of kinetic energy.

applegate instagram comments

To be a part of the action is to be included.

This not only allows brands to create more authentic connections with customers, but it also gives them meaningful insights into what customers really want.

The combination of live video and social media access spurred an eruption of public interest
over the past year.

After Facebook launched its iteration of live video, each major social media platform released its own live video feature.

And Facebook Live is still the preferred platform for watching live streaming video.

most popular platforms for live streaming

YouTube Live and Instagram trail just behind Facebook.

Keep in mind that some live video platforms are better for certain things than others. You want to target the one that gives you the most utility for your needs.

If you think that live video is just a fad that’s going to die out when the “next big thing” comes along, you’re wrong. Live video is the next big thing, and it’s here to stay.

Here’s why.

Don’t ignore live video’s exploding popularity

According to Recode, more than 500 million people are viewing video on Facebook every single day.

That’s huge.

And in four years, 80% of all consumer Internet traffic will be Internet video traffic.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pro gaming is an entire industry that thrives on live video, and it’s booming. And that’s just one industry that drives the popularity of live video!

According to Buffer’s 2018 State of Social Report, 96% of businesses use Facebook, 89% use Twitter, 70% use LinkedIn, another 70% use Instagram, and 57% are active on YouTube.

which of the following channels does your business currently use

Of these businesses, 85% plan to create even more video across their social accounts than they did the year before.

what types of content does your business plan to create more of

As if that wasn’t enough, 95% of brand executives think that live video is the key to training, engaging, and communicating in 2018.

If you choose to ignore the importance of live video, your competitors are going to leave you in the dust. Now is the time to choose a platform and get started.

Choosing the right video outlet is vital to the success of your marketing mix this year. But it shouldn’t be too hard to find one that will work for you.

Developers have had time to smooth out most of the live video platforms, which means that they’re easy for both businesses and customers to use.

For example, Facebook live offers a built-in notification system that notifies users when a page that they’ve liked “goes live.”

mark zuckerberg going live on facebook

Facebook also offers features that allow pages to promote a live video ahead of time. Users can simultaneously set reminders so they don’t forget about the broadcast.

reminder to go live on facebook

If you want to expand your reach and gain exposure for events or product launches, this is a great feature.

Your posts and ads won’t get lost in a sea of status updates. Streaming brings customers straight to you instead.

But how are people interacting with streaming video as a whole? And how are brands specifically using it?

How are people interacting with live video?

Brands aren’t the only ones using live video. Ordinary people use live video on each and every one of the social media platforms that offer it.

Like with videos and photos, social media users are leveraging live video feeds to share their own stories.

It’s more personal than a typical, all-text post.

Because live video allows you to share content in real time, many businesses have taken advantage of the free-flowing nature of the medium to create experiences that wouldn’t work anywhere else.

Kohl’s, for example, does this.

kohls live facebook video

The people who engaged with this video were watching Kohl’s models work out live.

If it weren’t live, the event would have looked like a basic, obvious infomercial. But because it was fully interactive, 37,000 viewers got to experience it together.

That’s virtually impossible when it comes to television ads unless it’s Super Bowl Sunday.

top super bowl ads by online views

80% of people would rather watch live videos from brands than read their blog posts while 82% prefer live videos from brands over regular social posts.

Here’s the bottom line:

Live video is ideal for human interaction.

It brings people out of their shells on Facebook, for instance, where broadcasts receive 600% more engagement than regular posts.

Brands, influencers, and regular users can all access live video to share the most interesting parts of their days.

So can you.

Live video brings traffic to your business

With Facebook Live, customers can literally engage with you in real time.

You’re able to address viewers by name, which boosts active engagement and participation.

To put it simply, live video allows brands to “break the fourth wall” between them and their customers.

Search Engine Journal found that their live video posts on Facebook like SEJ News Live receive more attention than their regular updates.

search engine journal facebook live

In fact, their live videos packed an engagement punch that was 178% higher than the average engagement on their regular posts.

Over two months, live video increased the brand’s referral traffic by 213%.

increased brands referral traffic

And with live video, customers are always in the loop about events whether they’re serious or outlandish.

For example, back in 2016, BuzzFeed held their audience’s attention for 45 minutes while two employees were putting rubber bands around a watermelon until it “blew up.”

buzzfeed watermelon blew up

Even though it was a rather silly event, the suspense of the live broadcast kept the audience watching.

The content wouldn’t have been as interesting if BuzzFeed had posted it on their social media accounts as a regular video. The fact that it was live created a sense of community for viewers.

Viewers waited for the watermelon to pop together. While waiting, they speculated on the number of rubber bands it would take for the fruit to reach its breaking point.

Live video also helps influencers because they can learn exactly what viewers are interested in talking about.

Influencer Brian Fanzo advises creating a strategy for live video ahead of time but keeping things flexible.

Here’s what he told Convince and Convert:

“I was giving a tour behind the scenes with the goal to make the streaming a ‘backstage pass’ event, when several viewers started asking questions about my new Samsung phone.”

He switched gears and started talking about technology with viewers since that’s where participants wanted to take the conversation.

You have to be willing to go with the flow.

If you work with an influencer on live video campaigns, both the host and your brand will be able to access the wants, needs, and desires of your audience more authentically.

Tons of brands are finding huge success by broadcasting recurring live videos.

Consider HelloFresh, for example. The brand hosts a live, interactive cooking show where their customers cook along with the host. They get tips from professional chefs and immediate answers to their questions.

hellofresh live cooking show on facebook

This helps viewers improve their cooking skills and prepare tasty meals with help from an expert.

Viewers can find the Facebook Live Cooking Party series on the HelloFresh Facebook page.

live cooking parties facebook video

And HelloFresh isn’t the only big brand utilizing live video for all it’s worth. In March of 2018, Nissan live streamed the reveal of their new 2019 Altima.

nissan altima live reval on facebook

But you don’t have to limit live streaming to simple product launches.

You could live stream a Q&A like the developers of the popular game Hearthstone did back in June of 2017.

live stream q&a

Pepsi got creative by partnering with Nature Conservancy and using the power of live streaming to protect watersheds nationwide.

The possible uses for live video are virtually endless. The technology opens all kinds of doors, and it’s here to stay.

One reason that you can count on live video continuing to grow in popularity is that it’s a great tool for SEO.

Consumers are eager for more content from the brands that they follow, but as many as 80% of them say that they would prefer to consume live video to blog posts.

And since most platforms notify users about live content in their feeds, they don’t have to look very far to find it.

If you launch a live video and don’t have many viewers at first, don’t get discouraged too quickly.

Let’s say that you host a small event and decide to live stream it. When you first go live, only 15 people are watching it. That might not seem like many viewers.

But while you’re live, some viewers might post the video to their page and ask their friends to watch it. The longer you’re live, the more people will continue to share the video.

Who knows? You could end up racking up a total reach of thousands of people from one live stream.

rising importance of live streaming

To sweeten the deal, you don’t need a huge marketing budget to broadcast live video.

In fact, it’s possible to share an effective live video on pretty much every platform without spending a single dime.

Here’s how to choose the live video platform that works best for you and start using it.

How to choose a live video platform and get started

When it comes to live video, the options are (almost) limitless.

If you’re not sure which platform to go live on, keep reading. I’ll walk you through some of your options.

1. Facebook

Facebook has the largest user base out of all social platforms, which makes it a great place to stream video. Practically all of your family and friends are already on there.

monthly users of all the social platforms

If you go live on Facebook, you’ll have a greater chance to boost online visibility and reach than you will with other platforms.

And going live on Facebook is easy. It’s arguably easier than any other platform out there.

From the app, start composing a regular status update like you normally would.

From an iOS device, a list of options will appear below the text field.

Tap on “Live Video.”

update status with facebook live video

Then hit “Continue.”

go live on facebook continue

Now, you’re almost ready.

facebook live empty comment box

The steps are similar on an Android device. Hit “Go Live” and “Continue.”

Enter in a title for your live video explaining what you plan to talk about (or where you’re broadcasting from) and choose a privacy level.

For the widest reach, select “Public.”

facebook live public

When you’re live, your followers will receive a notification.

You’ll be able to see how many people are currently viewing your video, what their comments are, and how they’re “reacting” to it.

facebook live reactions

You can also comment on your live video and pin comments to the post. Once you finish broadcasting, Facebook will save the video to your profile.

2. Instagram

Like Facebook, Instagram will notify your followers once you decide to go live.

Your video won’t automatically upload to your profile, but you do have the option to upload it to your story for 24 hours after you record it.

To start a live video on Instagram, tap the camera icon at the top left of your screen. You can also swipe right from your news feed.

instagram camera icon

Tap “Live” at the bottom of your screen and select “Start Live Video.”

start live video on instagram

You’ll be able to see the number of viewers you have at the top of the screen, and comments will appear at the bottom.

If you want to add your own comment, you can tap and hold it to pin it to the top of the page for all of your viewers to see.

When you finish your live stream, hit “Save” for a copy of your post that you can add to your story.

3. Twitter

Twitter live video works a bit differently than Facebook Live or Instagram.

Periscope, Twitter’s live video app, powers it. However, you don’t have to set up a Periscope account to use the feature through Twitter.

To get started, tap the button that you would normally press to create a new tweet.

From there, tap “LIVE.” Once you’re ready, start your video.

twitter start live video

Viewers who see your live post on their timelines can watch, comment, or send hearts.

saguaro lake periscope live

You can see how many people are watching your content and post your own comments in the stream.

4. Periscope

Over 2 million active users are on Periscope, and users stream 350,000 hours of video on the platform every single day.

Out of all members, 24% say that they use the platform at least once a week. 20% of them use the service several times every day.

frequency of periscope use

To use Periscope, you can download and launch the app from the App Store (using an iOS device).

Next, sign in.

periscope ios app signin

After confirming your settings, tap on the camera icon at the bottom.

people on periscope

Select the buttons for camera, microphone, and location.

allow periscope location

If you’re accessing Periscope on an Android device, tap on the camera icon at the bottom right of your screen.

Then, write a title that describes what you’re going to broadcast. From there, select who you want to share your live video with.

periscope go live

You can manage your location and chat settings or tweet your stream by using the three icons above the “Go LIVE” button.

Once you’re ready to go live, tap “Go LIVE.”

Click “Stop Broadcast” to quit recording.

stop periscope broadcast

5. YouTube

YouTube Live has experienced a slower rollout than other platforms, which is kind of ironic since most people think of YouTube as the original online video service.

But YouTube is still the top video marketing platform.

how marketers are using video

In 2017, YouTube first opened up mobile live streaming to all users with 10,000 or more subscribers. They later decreased the required number of subscribers to 1,000.

Though that still means that not everyone on the platform can use this feature, channels that are relatively small can still take advantage of the opportunity to share live video with their subscribers.

To go live from the Android or iOS app, click the camera button in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Then, click “GO LIVE.”

From here, you’ll be able to enter in a title for your stream, select your privacy options, and take a cover screenshot for your broadcast.

going live on youtube

Once you’re officially live, you’ll be able to see how many viewers you have. You can also see the comments that viewers have posted on your stream and the number of “likes” your video has received.

young turks live from vidcon

6. Twitch

The designers of Twitch originally created it for streaming video games, but you can now use it to stream everything from talk shows to regular live “vlogs.”

Twitch is a unique streaming outlet since partners and affiliates can monetize live streams on the platform.

Anyone can become a Twitch partner or affiliate. Members can receive donations from viewers and earn 5% of any game sale revenue that comes from referrals from their profiles.

Partners also get access to video ads, custom emoticons and badges, paid subscription options, and more.

twitch custom emoticons

In short, people are making a full living off of streaming on Twitch alone.

The singer Drake dropped into a stream to play Fortnite with a user. The stream racked up 628,000 views at the same time, which made that the most popular stream to date.

fortnite

If you want to go live on Twitch, you’ll need to create an account first.

Once you’ve done that, choose “Dashboard” from the drop-down menu in the top-right corner of the screen.

If you want to stream a game, select it under the “Playing” tab.

Next, enter a title for your broadcast, and you’re ready to stream.

twitch dashboard

Conclusion

In the next few years, live video will be a booming industry worth more than $70 billion.

The majority of marketers plan to create more video in 2018 than any other form of content.

Most people would rather consume live video from brands than read blog articles.

And it’s not just a fad. Video is here to stay.

Video content motivates people from around the world to connect in real time with one another and the brands they love.

Live video brings traffic to your business, creates engagement, and holds the attention of your viewers. Plus, streaming live video is free.

But it can be hard to choose the streaming platform that’s right for you.

Facebook Live is a great platform if you’re just getting started. Plus, it has the highest number of monthly users. It’s a great go-to option if you’re new to live streaming.

But you have lots of other platforms to consider. Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube, and Twitch are all great options, too.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to utilize the platform that most of your target audience is using. You may even want to stream on more than one of them if your audience is spread out between them.

No matter where you go live, be sure that you set your privacy to public so that all of your followers can view your stream.

How will you take advantage of live video in 2018?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

Source: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/live-video/

7 Reasons Why Nobody is Reading Your Content and How to Grab Their Attention

Content, content, content.

It seems like content is the only thing anyone can talk about these days.

You’ve probably read post after post about how “content is king” at least a dozen times.

However, despite your best efforts, you can’t seem to see what the content hype is all about.

You write blog posts.

You create videos.

You participate in social media.

And yet, crickets.

You’re creating content, but it’s not getting you very far.

Unfortunately, creating content isn’t enough to really market your business.

If no one is engaging with what you’re producing, you’re simply wasting time, energy, and resources to clutter an already overcrowded web.

But this doesn’t mean content marketing is ineffective.

In fact, 20% of business owners believe content marketing will have the largest impact on their business in 2018.

If you’re not getting results from the content you’re creating, it typically means you’re doing something wrong.

But with a projected 16% growth rate between 2017 and 2021, content marketing isn’t something you can just hope will pass by.

If you want to market your business successfully, you need to find your errors, shape up your content, and start getting conversions.

To help you improve your content marketing strategy, here are seven of the biggest mistakes you might be making – and what you can do to turn your results around.

1. You have no strategy

Are you posting whatever you want, whenever you want?

A lot of marketers do this.

In fact, only 37% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy.

percentage of b2b marketers who have a content strategy

This means the majority of marketers aren’t thinking strategically about the content they’re creating.

This makes it easy for your audience to ignore whatever you’re sharing.

A content marketing strategy helps you identify what you’d like to accomplish with your content, as well as how you’re going to use your content to achieve your larger business goals.

In other words, it forces you to put intention behind your content.

Moz describes content marketing strategy as the overlap between content marketing and content strategy.

moz content marketing strategy

At this intersection, you’re able to use the content you’ve created to bring your business plans to life.

If you’re operating without a content marketing strategy, this disconnect makes it difficult for your target audience to know what you want them to do.

However, when you create a plan, you’re putting a purpose behind your content.

Creating a content marketing plan doesn’t need to be difficult.

In fact, Content Marketing Institute outlines how you can create an effective plan in just one page by outlining your objectives, goals, metrics, and strategy.

Once this is done, you’re ready to move on to an editorial calendar.

Your editorial calendar should work hand-in-hand with the content marketing strategy you’ve created.

Here’s an example of an editorial calendar template from HubSpot.

hubspot blog editorial calendar

This calendar breaks down exactly when you’re going to publish your blog post, as well as the title name, content details, and keywords you’re going to target.

It also shares which personas you’re trying to reach and what you’re going to offer them.

This kind of well thought out planning means each piece of content you upload fits within the content marketing plan you’ve established.

There are dozens of ways you can create an editorial calendar.

Quickbooks chooses to house their editorial calendar in Airtable – allowing one editor to manage over 4,000 pieces of content.

quickbooks content operations

Others, like Buffer, turn to Trello.

buffer blog posts trello

Personally, I like Asana.

But the tool isn’t the point. The best tool is ultimately the one you can get everybody to use consistently.

2. You’re not publishing enough

When it comes to uploading content, quality beats quantity any day.

However, if you’re just posting once a month, you’re going to struggle to grab any real attention.

Consistency is key to building trust and credibility both with your audience and with search engines.

The idea is simple.

When you create more blogs, you’ll drive more traffic to your website.

With more traffic, you can prove to Google that you have content people want to read.

Once they understand you’re sharing valuable information, they’ll give your content a boost on their results pages – bringing in even more traffic and attention.

However, it’s easier said than done.

If you’re stuffing your website with low-quality information that your audience doesn’t care about, it doesn’t matter how frequently you post.

In fact, The Writing Cooperative found that blogging every day actually decreased their views compared to when they were posting just six times a month.

In March 2017, before their posting experiment, The Writing Cooperative was getting about 14,000 views each month.

medium stats

But once they began blogging every day, views began to decrease.

medium 12k views

The problem here is that they couldn’t continue to create high-quality content each and every day – and their readers noticed.

The key to getting attention through your content is finding the right balance between quality and quantity.

You also want to go beyond simple blog posts.

While blogging is a great way to bring traffic to your website, it doesn’t appeal to everyone.

Not everyone likes to read blog posts.

In fact, 53% of consumers said they’d like to see more videos in the future.

what type of content do people want

And with customers becoming more and more dependent on voice search and smart speakers, blogging isn’t always the most effective way to deliver content.

When you’re thinking about how often you should publish, you also want to consider what you’re publishing.

Videos can be a great way to grab attention, break down complex topics in a way that is easier for your audience to understand, or show off your products.

For example, Red Bull uses YouTube to show off the extreme sports, events, and competitions they sponsor.

With over seven million subscribers to their channel, Red Bull has one of the most popular YouTube pages out there.

Infographics are another way you can make your content more interesting for your audience, especially if you’re showing off large amounts of data or research.

In fact, over 41% of marketers said that infographics were the most engaging forms of visual content for their audience.

visuals in content marketing

This ranked even higher than videos.

Infographics are insanely popular because they’re easy to skim and visual, making them ideal content for your always-busy customers and clients.

You can also expand your reach and get more attention to your content by producing podcasts.

Podcasts have been increasing in popularity over the past couple of years, with an estimated 67 million individuals listening to podcasts every month in 2017.

Repurposing written content into spoken can help you reach customers who don’t enjoy reading – expanding your audience to new individuals.

When trying to create different kinds of content, don’t be afraid to get creative.

However, you always want to think back to your target audience.

Focus on creating content that your audience will want to engage with.

3. You’re confusing content with sales pitches

Your content shouldn’t sell.

Sure, the whole purpose of marketing is to create interest in your business and drive sales.

But you can’t start out a relationship with a potential lead with a sales pitch.

Today’s customers don’t like being sold to.

That’s mainly because they don’t need to be sold to.

With the Internet at their fingertips, customers are more capable of discovering their options without ever needing to speak with a salesperson.

In fact, 60% of consumers won’t connect with a salesperson until they’ve already created a shortlist of potential purchases.

buyers want to connect with sales

By the time they’re ready to buy, they already know more or less what they’re looking for.

This means you need to use your content to educate them – before you ever have the opportunity to connect.

Your content should be specially formatted to meet the unique needs of your buyer during every stage of their journey.

Let’s break down what that journey looks like.

First, your lead needs to become aware of your brand.

This means you need to be entertaining, engaging, or interesting enough to stand out from the piles of information already on the web.

You can do this in the form of videos, fun blog posts, educational webinars, and engaging social posts.

Take a look at this Instagram post from GoPro.

instagram gopro

This high-quality image is attention-grabbing, causing followers to stop their scrolling and take notice.

However, it also shows off what the GoPro is capable of – increasing awareness about the brand and its products.

Next comes the consideration phase.

During consideration, your audience needs to better understand their problem, as well as their available solutions.

The content you might create for them could include product comparison videos or articles, case studies, or podcasts.

Here’s an example of a webinar from Instapage that would attract customers in the consideration phase.

instapage webinar

During this webinar, participants learn more about how Instapage and Marketo can help lower their cost of customer acquisition, helping them determine if it’s the right solution for them.

This then brings the lead to the next stage of the buyer’s journey – the decision phase.

At this time, your lead is ready to choose which product or service is right for them.

You can encourage their decision with testimonials, product reviews, and demonstration videos.

Codeacademy uses their Stories page to share how past participants have used their skills to change their lives or careers.

codecademy video testimonial

These stories function the same as testimonials, allowing potential customers on the fence about purchasing to see how the decision influenced other customers’ lives.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle of SplitBase.io tells ConversionXL, “A type of social proof that works over and over again is testimonials. Whether it’s in video or written form, they’ve helped increase the conversion rate of the clients’ landing pages in every case.”

If your customer decides to buy, they’ve finally reached the delight phase of the buyer’s journey.

Here, they’ve already purchased, but you want to use your content to encourage them to buy again.

You can do this with newsletters, training webinars, or customer satisfaction surveys.

The Hubspot Academy is an example of content that reaches customers who have entered the delight phase of the buyer’s journey.

hubspot academy learning resources

By offering training and certifications, Hubspot stays in touch with customers while providing content that can improve their experience as a customer.

Notice how none of these content forms include a sales pitch.

Instead, during each step of the way, the focus is on the customer and helping them find the right solution to their problem.

When your audience feels like you’re helping them, they’ll be more inclined to engage with your content.

4. You don’t know your audience

When you create a piece of content, do you know who you ultimately want to engage with it?

You’re probably thinking “customers.”

Unfortunately, just trying to attract anyone with a credit card isn’t going to get you great results.

With the mass amounts of content and information on the Internet, customers can find content that speaks directly to them – no matter how niche that might be.

To get attention, you need to find your audience and create content just for them.

When you focus your content, you might be narrowing down your audience pool, but you’re making deeper connections.

This can help you see real growth from your content.

Let’s take a look at how Modernweb used a hyper-targeted content strategy to bring in 10,000 visitors in just three weeks.

They started with defining their “who.”

And they got specific.

They came to the conclusion that they would be writing for “technology executives inside of enterprise companies.”

While they had clients who owned startups and small businesses, they weren’t their ideal client. So, they weren’t an area of focus.

Next, they dove into understanding the day-to-day pain points that those individuals experience.

Finally, based on the audience and pain points they established, they created a content plan that addressed those needs.

In this case, Modernweb decided they’d focus on sharing stories from enterprise businesses who had recently switched from older to newer frameworks.

They identified their audience, understood what they were struggling with, then presented them with content that explained how similar individuals handled the same problem.

In just three weeks, their web traffic saw a major jump.

google analytics drop

Just from getting to know their audience, they were able to bring more unique visitors to their website and keep them engaged for an average of 9 minutes.

There are a few different ways you can begin to replicate Modernweb’s results.

First, create a buyer persona.

A buyer persona walks you through who your ideal client is.

Here’s an example from ClearVoice.

clearvoice female buyer persona

It breaks down exactly who they are, what problems they experience, and what kinds of solutions they might be looking for.

You can go deeper into your buyer persona to explain things like what they do each day, what kind of education level they have, or what they might do in their spare time.

The more detailed you can get with your buyer persona, the more targeted you can make your content.

If you have a wide range of products or services, you may also want to create multiple personas.

For example, here’s another example from ClearVoice.

clearvoice male buyer persona

While both John and Sandy have similar needs, they have different goals and challenges – meaning they’ll need to be targeted differently.

This can ensure that each of your audience members is well represented.

Next, pay attention to what they’re doing on social.

Monitoring your customer’s social activity can give you insights into the problems they’re facing, the solutions they may want, and what questions they may have.

You can then use this information to refine your content and guarantee you’re creating something they care about.

Check out the questions they’re asking on traditional platforms like Facebook or Twitter, but also dive into question sites or forums like Quora and Reddit.

For example, if you’re a personal finance firm looking for content ideas, the Personal Finance Reddit page can be a goldmine.

personal finance reddit

Users are constantly jumping on to ask questions about paying off debt, how to properly invest, or get advice on what to do in credit scams.

Knowing the real-life struggles your audience is facing can help you adjust and refine your content strategy to truly fit their needs.

Both of these pages can give you a great jumping off point for creating new content.

Finally, participate in conversations with your audience.

Get involved in Twitter Chats or Facebook Groups where your audience is hanging out.

Check out how RivalIQ gets involved in a conversation with a participant during the #BufferChat.

bufferchat with rival IQ on twitter

Not only does this allow them to make a great impression, but it also gives them some insight into what potential customers may be struggling with.

As you become familiar with the conversations they’re engaging with, you can refine your messaging and topics to better suit their needs and preferences.

5. Your voice isn’t genuine

Customers want to purchase from companies they believe they can trust.

In fact, the top quality that customers look for in a brand is honesty, followed by friendliness and helpfulness.

behaviors consumers want from brands

However, if it seems like you’re just putting on a persona for sales, they’re going to be hesitant to connect.

When creating your brand voice, it needs to connect who your brand is with who your audience thinks your brand should be.

Let’s consider this graph for a second.

Snarkiness is the last thing that customers what when it comes to brands on social media.

However, when we look at brands like Wendy’s and MoonPie, their attitude gets them hundreds of thousands of engagements.

So, what’s going on here?

Both Wendy’s and MoonPie have made it their brand persona to be snarky, witty, and sarcastic on social.

It’s who they are – and that’s why it works.

They’re not pretending to have an attitude just for attention.

It’s a unique indicator of their content, allowing them to create a reputation that makes customers want to connect.

Check out this quote from Juntae Delane, Founder of Digital Branding Institute.

content marketing predictions for 2018

According to Juntae, a brand’s voice needs to go beyond simple industry jargon and bland business tones.

Instead, it needs to match with the customer’s needs and provide a human element to the brand.

You can build your brand voice off the buyer persona you’ve created.

Based on your buyer persona, get familiar with the kind of language, tone, or colloquialisms your audience may be using.

Check out how they speak on their own social media platforms.

Then, take a look at the competitors or other brands they’re engaging with.

Once you’re familiar with the way they communicate, create a storyboard for your voice.

Think of your brand as a unique individual.

Outline what your brand likes, what they don’t like, how they perceive themselves, and how they want to be perceived by others.

You’ll also want to dig deeper to consider larger ideas that might not have any direct influence on your brand.

Today’s customers are expecting brands to be more than just a business.

For example, 65% of consumers believe it’s important for brands to take a stand on social or political issues.

how important is it for brands to take a stand on social and political issues

Take a look at the conversation created around Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham criticized Parkland school shooting survivor and gun control advocate, David Hogg, for getting rejected from four colleges.

David responded by calling out all of Ingraham’s advertisers, asking them to pull their support of the show.

david hogg pressuring advertisers through Twitter

Within a few days, companies like Hulu, Bayer, and Nutrish had announced they’d be pulling the ads from Ingraham’s program.

After a few weeks, the program had lost 24 advertisers.

However, not all advertisers chose to separate.

Mike Lindell, founder of the MyPillow, announced he would be leaving his advertisements on the program.

By becoming a part of important conversations and debates, brands can refine their voice and make their opinions and beliefs more well known.

While it’s impossible to prepare for every kind of hurdle or backlash your brand may experience, knowing where your brand falls in these situations can help you create consistent messaging through your content.

6. You’re not promoting

Remember when Beyonce released a surprise album without any marketing?

In three days, she sold almost 830,000 albums.

It was impressive.

However, if you’re trying to use this tactic to promote your content, you’re in for a rude awakening.

Unfortunately, you’re not Beyonce.

And that means you need to promote.

Proper content promotion is really the key to getting attention to your content.

If you’re simply posting links to your latest blog post on your Twitter account, you’re probably going to get ignored.

Take a look at this Tweet from user Vic Maine.

vic maine low quality tweet

It’s just a link, featuring no context, hashtags, or other interesting information that might entice the reader to engage.

So, it’s not really surprising to see it hasn’t started any conversations or gotten any traction.

However, you can refine your promotion strategy to include email marketing, social, forums, and influencer marketing to improve your results.

First, let’s take a look at social.

Companies have been promoting their content on social for years.

However, the way you should promote and where you should promote is always changing.

Just one shift to the network’s algorithm or design (or even a negative post from an influencer) and your entire promotion strategy might be turned upside down.

Take a look at Facebook, for example.

After changing their algorithm, many brands reported a drop in organic reach.

However, you can work around this algorithm shift by either paying to promote your content or creating content that your audience wants to engage with.

Check out this breakdown Buffer created of important signals that can influence your ranking on Facebook.

ranking signals in news feed rankings

As you can see, some of the most important factors of what gets ranked depends on how users are interacting with the post.

This means you want to focus more on creating content that individuals want to engage with, rather than strictly shock-value content.

You should also make your content easy for your readers or viewers to share your content on their own.

Within blog posts, including “Click to Tweet” bars or share buttons can help encourage visitors to share the content with their friends or family – helping to improve your reach.

Content Marketing Institute frequently uses Click to Tweet bars to make it easier for their readers to share their content.

content marketing institute click to tweet

You can also use more targeted marketing approaches to help reach your audience, such as email marketing.

When you properly segment your email lists, you can share your content with individuals you already know are interested in what you’re sharing.

Take a look at the results MailChimp found for campaigns segmented by interest groups.

mailchimp campaigns segmented by interest groups

By sending specific content to your audience members based on their interests, you can dramatically improve your campaign results.

7. Your content isn’t properly optimized

Promoting your content is just one side of the coin.

To truly bring attention to what you produce, you want your audience to be able to find what you’re creating.

This means it needs to be properly optimized.

Each piece of content should comply with your greater SEO strategy.

This means going beyond just creating content that your audience wants to read or engage with.

Keywords should be factored into each piece of content you create.

By finding words or phrases that your audience is actually searching online, you can increase your chances of them finding you.

The Keyword Planner from AdWords is one way you can find new keyword opportunities.

flowers online keyword planner

You want to find keywords that are high in average monthly searches but low in competition.

Don’t simply guess at what you think your audience wants.

You also want to make sure your content is properly formatted.

Your titles and heading should be strong and capable of standing on their own.

According to CopyBlogger, 8 in 10 individuals will read a headline – but only 2 in 10 will read the rest.

This means you need to create headlines that your audience can’t resist.

The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer is one tool you can use to improve your headlines.

word balance in headlines

The tool analyzes your word balance to give you an overall score out of 100.

It also provides you with insights on length, sentiment, and even guesses which keywords it believes you’re targeting.

headline keywords and sentiment

This can help you test the strength of your headlines before you post, saving you trouble and guaranteeing higher results.

But blog content isn’t the only thing you need to optimize.

You also want to make sure your videos, infographics, and images are optimized appropriately.

To optimize your videos on YouTube, start with an optimized title that describes the video and includes the keyword you’re trying to rank for.

This isn’t too much different than writing blog titles.

However, you also want to tag your videos appropriately and write a full description.

Your video description lets the YouTube algorithm know what your video is about.

Check out this description from a DottoTech video.

dottotech youtube video description

He provides a clear overview of what will be featured in the video, as well as some links to the apps he’s going to talk about.

This can help improve his connection to those pages and gives him the opportunity to further target his keywords.

Images are another area you’ll want to ensure are properly optimized.

First, make sure you’re using high-quality images that are the appropriate size for where they’re being placed.

This can help improve your page load time to keep visitors happy.

You can use a compressor tool to change the size of your image without hurting the quality.

You’ll also want to place the keyword you’re trying to target in the file name.

Because Google can’t actually see what your image is, it’s your responsibility to tell them.

Use captions, alt text, and title text to give Google a better understanding of the image you’re sharing.

Conclusion

In today’s digital age, you can’t afford to create content that is easily ignored.

However, it takes time to craft messaging that your audience will want to engage with.

Keep these seven tips in mind the next time you create content.

What tips or tricks have you found that improve your content-creation process?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

Source: https://blog.kissmetrics.com/why-is-nobody-reading-content/

Email Personalization: The What, Why, and How of Hyper-Personalized Email [Infographic]

Email personalization has evolved from [first name] in an email to an entire series of emails customized for preferences and behaviors. Check out the future of hyper-personalized email and see steps you can take to make it work for your marketing. Read the full article at MarketingProfs
Source: https://www.marketingprofs.com/chirp/2018/34754/email-personalization-the-what-why-and-how-of-hyper-personalized-email-infographic