3 Simple (And Necessary) Website Security Strategies to Implement

“Who am I?” you think.

“I’m just a small local business. What could a hacker possibly want with me?”

Well, 50,000 websites get hacked daily. And 43% of those hacks happen to small businesses.

I’m not trying to terrify you.

But it is important to understand the reality you live in.

Smart hackers know you think this way. So they try to catch you with your guard down.

Think of website security like driving on a busy highway knowing you can get in an accident at any time, and taking all reasonable measures so you don’t.

Nothing to be afraid of. But you’re wise to take the right actions.

How do you shut down hackers before they even start? Believe it or not, it’s not actually that hard:

1. Use HTTPS and SSL

Google actually rewards websites that use HTTPS with higher rankings. HTTPS simply tells your visitors they’re interacting with the right server.

Plus, users expect to see it. So you make them more comfortable and willing to stay longer when they see https:// before your website’s address.

SSL encrypts the information transferred between users’ web browsers and your server. So if they purchase from you online, their credit card info isn’t readily visible to hackers.

You just have to use both today. No question about it.

2. Use a Password Manager

Do you use the same password for everything? This used to be somewhat okay when hackers were less sophisticated like 10-15 years ago.

Today, it’s a no-no.

And the same goes for sharing passwords, credit card info, or banking info via email.

LastPass (and dozens of other password managers just like it) are free. They create and store all your passwords in their securely encrypted app

For example, you can create a 25-character password with letters, numbers, and symbols.

Good luck to any hackers trying to crack that!

Plus, LastPass automatically enters your username and password for you at login screens. So, you simply click a button and login with a uniquely created password.

You only have to remember your password for LastPass. That’s it.

Plus, you can share your password with other LastPass users. It’s free to store and send passwords (with some paid features too), so there’s no reason not to use it.

3. Always Have a Backup

Your website should always have a backup in place, just in case the worst happens.

Better to be out of operations for a day or two while you get back online than to have everything stolen and have to rebuild from scratch.

Regardless of the CMS or hosting service you use, they have low-cost backup options available.

You may want to pay more for better functionality. But you can certainly get a backup in place at an easily affordable cost.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

There’s more to website security than those things. But if you implement them, you cut off most of the major avenues hackers may take.

And best of all?

They don’t take a lot of time or money!

Here’s to your safety in 2019 and beyond.

4 Essential Online Marketing Metrics to Know


There’s so much information on online marketing. You can easily find yourself pulling your hair out in a desperate attempt to figure out what to pay attention to.

No worries. We have you covered.

Here’s what you should actually care about:

  1. Sales Conversion Rate

You hear this most often referred to as “conversion rate.” It refers to the percentage of customers who actually do what you want.

This technically doesn’t have to be an action that results in a sale. But for our purposes, that’s what we’ll say “Conversion Rate” refers to. Because, that’s what finally matters to your business.

Conversion rates for service-based businesses typically run in the 1-3% range. So, it’s important to know that just a few more website visitors could result in 50% more sales.

You can always track conversion rate. It can be difficult. But it must be done.

  1. Revenue by Referring Source

Who helps you get the most revenue out of all the different possible channels that drive customers to you?

Does in-person word-of-mouth drive the most sales for you? Google? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Paid search? Other unknown sources?

When you know this information, you can identify where to spend more time marketing, and where you can shore up weak areas.

  1. Social Media Engagement

Size doesn’t matter. At least, in social media anyway. If you have a large audience who doesn’t engage with what you post, it doesn’t matter how big you grow your audience.

You’d rather have an engaged audience, who, when you post, takes action in droves.

So, you’d rather know the engagement rates of your audience, right?

That means measuring things like comments, likes, shares, and mentions. Those metrics carry much more meaning than the size of your audience.

  1. Email Open Rates

This is the engagement metric to measure for emails. It tells you how interesting your content for your email list is.

Again, a smaller more engaged audience is more important than a larger, less-engaged one. You only need a couple hundred subscribers.

More is always better. But, just a couple hundred can result in more sales that mean a difference to your bottom line.

Your email list subscribers love to purchase because they’re the best customers you have. Only your most devoted customers join your email list.

Plus, this is such an easy metric to track. And it also tells you what really interests your audience. So, you can learn what to talk about on your website, in your social media profiles, and even in person!

That keeps interest and results in more sales.

For any small business, those are key metrics to know. And as you improve them over time, you’ll certainly notice a difference in your bottom line.

Do Business Blogs Still Make Sense in 2019 and Beyond?

Remember when a “blog” was this cool and unique thing that made you stand out?

What connotation does the word “blog” carry for you now?

Everyone has one. Has it become sort of this negative term because basically the only reason you have a blog is to keep Google happy?

You know…you just churn out a bunch of words, get no customers or sales from it, and then do it again. Ugh! Curse that stupid blog! It’s just another time-eater.

But, blogs are still potent business-building assets in 2019. It’s just that the uniqueness factor isn’t what sells them anymore.

Today, more than ever, your blog must have usefulness to your audience.

How to Maximize the Sales You Get From Your Blog

Truth be told, it’s practically impossible to measure the precise sales value of your blog. That’s because blogs work as a step on the customer’s sales journey.

First they read your blog post. Then they subscribe to your email newsletter. Then they join your Facebook page or Twitter profile. Then they read another blog post.

Finally, since you’ve kept their attention by being so useful, that person becomes a paying customer. This process can take a year, and even two.

So how much responsibility does your blog have for that sale? Is it 25%, 35%, 50%, 90%, more?

It’s hard to measure. But, it certainly plays a role and keeps interest. And here are some tips on getting the most sales from your blog:

  1. Intimately Understand Your Readers

Just because you publish a post doesn’t mean your readers care about it one bit. Many blogs suffer from the problem of not winning any interest.

Believe it or not, it’s easy to figure out what to write about in your blog (or shoot a video about if you decide on a video blog).

What questions do customers ask you in person all the time? You hear the same ones over and over.

Or, just ask your customers in person. Just say,”What would you really like to know more about?”

Not every one of these ideas will be a smash hit. But each will carry utility for segments of customers. And that will draw more readers in and give you more data on what they like and don’t like.

  1. Share Customer Stories

“Facts tell and stories sell” goes the marketing cliche. Whether or not you like cliches, they contain a boatload of truth.

You can tell your customers all day long about facts that support the proof of your products or services.

…And they’ll yawn. They won’t act. And they certainly won’t buy.

Now, switch to telling customer stories on your blog from time-to-time.

Make sure you share the problem they had which led them to you. Discuss why they opted to go with you instead of competitors. Show how they used your product or service. And then share the results.

No need to write like you’re the next J.K. Rowling. Just tell the story. And watch customers roll in like crazy. Customers with the same problems and concerns will come to you. So, to access different market segments, simply highlight stories with varying problems and solutions.

It works. Just try it.

So yes. Your blog is a potent marketing tool. And putting these tips to use will generate the sales you want.

Does Your Website Use “Thank You” Pages?

“Thank you!”

It’s a globally recognized phrase that everyone appreciates.

You can’t say it enough. Is there ever a wrong time to say “thank you?”

And since the web’s merely an extension of real-life conversations, why don’t you see “thank you” pages more often?

Now, we’re not saying this just to improve your web etiquette.

Thank you pages also serve legitimate business purposes to deepen your relationships with your customers and turn more passers-by into ecstatic paying customers.

But how do you actually do that?

Learn from these examples:

  1. Thank Customers for Joining Your Email List

This is a prime time to give your customers an opportunity to buy. They’ve already expressed high interest in your company by signing up for your email list. It takes a lot of trust-building to get them to do that.

So, even though you offered your customers an incentive to join your list, give them another one with your thank-you page.

For example, offer them 50% off one product if they purchase in the next 24 hours.

Try different approaches because you never know which one works best.

  1. Offer Premium Content

This approach may work better for service-based businesses.


They typically have longer sales cycles that require more convincing and cajoling to sell. It’s harder to sell something you can’t see than something you can.

So, when a customer asks you to email them content, give them a thank you page that shows other related content that they may enjoy also.

This could be a video, podcast, ebook, guide, whitepaper, or whatever form the content may take.

  1. Use Written or Video Testimonials

Immediately after a customer fills out your email form to contact you about your services, you can redirect them to a thank-you page with social proof.

This could be a video testimonial, or a written testimonial, for example. The testimonial should give a clear explanation of the customer’s problem before using your product or service, and the results afterward.

If you use written testimonials, try to get an image of your customer also. That makes the testimonial more credible.

Anyway, this convinces the customer to a greater degree they made a smart choice and will get the result they want by choosing you.

You should have social proof throughout your website. And this is a particularly key time to show it.

So yes, saying “thanks” works. And remember to have a genuinely thankful attitude too.

Customers sense whether you appreciate them or see them as another set of dollar signs.

When you’re genuine, that keeps them coming back!


How to Create Sign-Up and Contact Forms That Win Customers at High Rates

Believe it or not, there is a science to contact and sign-up forms. Assuming everything else on your website is the same, you can get dramatically more (or less) customers depending on the design of your sign-up or contact form.

So what should you do or not do?

Well, it depends on your goals.

If you want to talk to as many customers as possible, for example, you make your form fast and easy to fill out. You use the fewest fields possible.

But, perhaps you want to talk to more of a certain kind of customer. This would most likely be the case for more business-to-business companies. Then, you make your form longer and include more fields.

Not only do you understand more about your customer, but only customers who really have a stronger interest in what you have will actually take the time to fill out the form.

So, you spend more of your time talking to the right kind of customer rather than weeding through and trying to find the one you want.

Let’s talk about some of the specifics:

  1. Less than 5 fields = more customers

Forms with fewer than 5 fields to fill out result in a nearly 20% conversion rate. If you’re business-to-consumer, cut your form to fewer than 5 fields.

  1. Offer Rewards for Signing Up

This works for both business and consumer customers. The incentive may vary, but the concept works.

In both cases, those who join your email list will become your best customers. Only people and businesses who really love what you do join.

In other words, lists are a reliable source of recurring profit (usually for years to come).

For consumers, you may offer a 10% discount on their next purchase, or free shipping. For businesses, you might offer content with exclusive data or a guide on how to get more value from your products or services.

With incentives, there’s actually dozens of approaches. And you never know which one works best until you test and compare.

What does not work is saying,”Subscribe to our blog!” or “Join our email list!” Neither motivates your website visitors in any way.

  1. Make Sure Your Form Allows Autofill

Regardless of the length of your form, the customer doesn’t want to waste their precious time filling out their information if they don’t have to.

Do you know how many times they do this a day?

So, make sure your form allows the browser to autofill information. It’s a small thing.

And in fact, all these suggestions are small. But paying attention to the small stuff makes a big difference with forms and the business you win from them.

How to Manage Your Brand’s Reputation Online

Your company has a reputation online. It works differently than in the real world. But, you can legitimately quantify your company’s name online.

You have all the review sites. Facebook lets users review your company. There’s all sorts of independent/niche review sites beyond the big names you know. You have what people say on Twitter and other social media sites.

Good (and bad) word about your company spreads fast. And of course, the actions online users take factor into how your site ranks.

So how do you stay on top of what people have to say about you?

Here’s how:

  1. Keep Running A Customer-First Business

You sow what you reap. Take care of your customers in the real world, and they’ll take care of you – online and off.

There is a huge benefit to frequent negative online reviews: you can find out about problems in your business fast. Before the internet, you had to wait for a customer brave enough to be honest…or until you reviewed your financials.

And there’s another huge benefit to poor reviews: you can quickly turn them into a huge win. Fix the problem publicly by telling the user how you’ll remedy the situation. That way, other users can see you care.

And when you have solved the situation to their liking, ask them to update their review of you. That scores huge points with other readers of the review because they now have the confidence you care about every single one of your customers.

  1. Earn Positive Reviews

Not all negative reviews can be corrected. Unfortunately, some customers just won’t follow through.

So your next best bet lies in earning positive reviews. Learn, from your customer’s perspective, what an exceptional service experience is like in your niche. Even ask your customers outright,”What could we do to deliver you a truly exceptional experience today?”

Then, follow up with them by email and give them direct links to the sites you want to land reviews on.

Follow up a couple times.

Those positive reviews will eventually bury anything negative anyone has to say about you. And assuming you change what led to those negative reviews, your reputation will only improve.

  1. Use Reputation Monitoring Software

Trying to monitor your reputation across all these different websites can be an exhausting nightmare.

No worry…software can come to the rescue! Top tools like Grade.us and ReviewTrackers centralize the tracking of your online reputation. At some point, for every business, it becomes impossible to do it on your own.

Try not to view monitoring and managing your online reputation as a pain-in-the-keister. Because, positive reviews, and fixed negative ones, help you attract higher rankings and more customers.

What you do always comes back to you. And now you know how to make sure good comes back your company as you manage your online reputation.