Introduction to Content Marketing

Content marketing is the creation and distribution of media to consumers on the internet.

It is a practice that aims to:

  • Improve the quality of content available online
  • Help audiences find the products, services, and expertise for which they are looking
  • Help products, services, and expertise find their appropriate audiences
  • Improve the visibility of websites in major search engines

Content encompasses an astounding variety of consumable media, and disseminating that media through marketing requires knowledge of every digital marketing channel available.

interest in content marketing over time data from google trends

Google Trends data shows us that content marketing sharply rose in importance around 2012 and has been steadily increasing since 2014.

It’s intimidating to increase your visibility as a website or business owner in today’s online world. But by building your understanding of content marketing from the basics, you can boost your ability to unite your marketing efforts and bring your content to the audiences who seek it.

The Meaning of “Content”

Content is anything that is consumable on the internet.

Any complete piece of media that you find on the internet can be considered digital content. There’s a long list of media that we call content, which means a content creator’s job requires an unusual breadth of skills. Some of the most common content pieces you’ll find include:

BlogsFeatured ImagesWhitepapersExplainer Videos
Landing PagesInfographicseBooksCommercials
News ArticlesMotion GraphicsPress ReleasesSocial Media Videos
Ad CopyAnimationsManuals/GuidesHow-To Videos

Surprisingly, the list doesn’t end there. Businesses may ask content creators to go beyond the normal scope of content creation to make highly customized pieces of content. Custom content may use less popular media such as audio or print, or could combine popular media in unique ways.

However, it’s easier to think of the most common content as a part of the four main categories:



icon for visual content explanation  Text-based pieces of content that focus on providing information and value to consumers and search engines.


rightword arm example of leverage custom graphicsVisual media designed to enhance the user experience and allow information to be consumed faster and easier than information contained in text.


purple book with leverage logo for publications exampleAdvanced and thorough pieces of long-form content that provide top-level expertise on a topic or topics.


video rounded corner cutout with trees and mountainMoving images that improve the consumability of information by providing it through visual and auditory channels.


Once a content creator makes a piece of content, it needs a home. In most cases, that home will be the creator’s or his or her client’s website. From there, the content needs to reach the world, which requires effective content marketing.

The Meaning of “Content Marketing”

Content marketing is the science of creating and distributing content to the appropriate audience.

We defined it earlier, but the alternative definition above may be easier to digest. As a process that requires lots of experimentation, social aptitude, professional courtesy, technical knowledge, analytical ability, and financial management, content marketing is a far less tangible concept than content.

But that doesn’t mean it’s out of reach. Like content, understanding content marketing on a basic level enables webmasters, business owners, and marketers to change the direction and scope of the practice.

Content marketing is just a collection of approaches for the dissemination of content to which each marketer can apply his or her style and expertise. The most common approaches to content marketing include:

Search Engine Optimization

leverage green computer with fading search resultsThe SEO approach is built into quality content; that is, the easiest way to get your content to those who need it is to write thorough content with valuable information that search engines will pick up and rank highly.

Email Outreach

arm holding off white envelope for email outreachOutreach by email is the process of sharing content with interested parties by writing an email to those parties and attaching a link or document for sharing. You can use this method to solicit guest posts or to get your content on popular, well-ranking websites.

Social Outreach

arm holding twitter bird for social outreachSocial outreach is the act of sharing content on popular social media channels; it can be done organically by using available free sharing tools, or it can be done using paid advertising now available on most social media platforms.

Influencer Marketing

leverage green computer showing influencer marketing chatThe influencer marketing approach uses manual or automated outreach to influential men and women who can promote your content to their followers. Influencers hold sway over their audiences and, when they endorse a product or service, have a significant impact on its success.

Content Distribution Platforms

cannon firing leverage publication for content distribution platformsPaid content distribution platforms use a pay-per-click approach to present your content to audiences who see sponsored links to your content on websites with similar content. You pay for impressions or clicks, but you get massive traffic – as long as you offer quality content.

Each approach requires the marketer to build a new set of skills. But following the mastery of each approach, the potential for content to reach new audiences increases substantially.

How to Get Started with Content Marketing

You can’t begin marketing content without first creating it. But to begin creating valuable content, you have to have a brand that backs it.


Before you dive into content creation, start with branding.
leverage logo with white border and background

  1. Find out who your competitors are targeting and consider how you can appeal better to that audience and others.
  2. Think of adjectives that describe your persona or that of your company and stick to those adjectives when representing yourself or your organization.
  3. Record and use hard brand guidelines as a point from which you can jump off, but be ready to allow your brand to evolve.

Your brand guidelines will direct the topics your content covers, how those topics appeal to consumers, and what channels you can use to distribute your content.


Your branded business can begin content creation with or without a dedicated marketing team, but it requires a significant time commitment to accomplish.

Some of the most common and effective content published regularly on today’s websites includes:

  • Service & Product Pages – Pages that describe in detail a service or product offered by you or your company.
  • Blogs – Articles written to share information that does not have a direct marketing approach.
  • Graphics – Visual media that shares information or acts as an advertisement for you or your business.

As long as you have a computer available, content creation is inherently free except for the hours required to complete it. Start creating content today and publish it on your website or social media channels to garner organic traffic and build your audience.


Your marketing experts at Leverage Marketing know how to build content from the ground up and take it to the audiences that are searching for it. Let us know if you need a hand in your content creation or marketing, or learn more from our content marketing service page (one of our countless pieces of valuable content)!

4 Local SEO Trends Shaping the Future of Search

Search engine optimization (SEO) evolves quickly, especially when it comes to local SEO trends. As a local business owner, it can be hard to keep up—which is why we’ve put together this guide to four local SEO updates that are shaping search in 2017.

The Rise of Voice Search

There’s no way around it: voice search (a search performed when a user speaks a voice command) is one of the biggest trends in local SEO, and businesses need to think about how to optimize web content for searchers who aren’t looking at a screen.  With the increasing popularity of virtual smartphone assistants like Siri and Cortana, as well as smart devices like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, spoken queries are becoming a common starting place for researching local businesses. In fact, Google estimates that 20% of all mobile queries are voice searches.

So, what’s the takeaway here? For one thing, local businesses and SEO analysts need to include natural language in site content and tags that mirrors the language of voice searches. Let’s say you’re trying to drive foot traffic to your Tex-Mex restaurant in Austin. You might already know that, “Where can I get Tex-Mex in Austin?” is a popular voice query. However, people may also be asking questions like:

Who has the best Tex Mex food in Austin?

Where can I get cheap Tex Mex near me?

What's the closest Tex Mex restaurant?

As people get more comfortable having casual conversations with their internet-enabled devices, local SEOs must update their strategies to focus more attention on long-tail keywords. Local businesses may also benefit from expanding their website’s FAQ content to address the common queries that consumers are asking their devices.

Sophisticated Chatbots

Chatbots are relatively new on the scene (at least when it comes to widespread adoption by small businesses). It’s hard to predict exactly how they’ll shape local SEO in 2017 and beyond, but chatbots certainly seem to fit with the shift towards more conversational search.

Microsoft’s Bing is betting big on this trend. The Google competitor is currently testing out chatbots for local Seattle restaurants. Participating restaurants have a Chat button next to their listing in the search engine results pages (SERPs), and searchers can click the option to summon up a chatbot. People can then ask the chatbot questions—such as whether the restaurant accepts credit cards or is good for large groups—and get answers faster than they might be able to just by searching the restaurant’s website and online reviews.

Bing's chatbot feature reflects local SEO trends

Bing’s chatbot opens directly on the search engine results page.

Bing plans to let businesses build their own SERP bots using their Microsoft Bot Framework. Once the bot is reviewed and approved, it will be available to display for relevant queries.

As of this writing, Google hasn’t added a chatbot feature to their SERPs. However, if Bing proves successful, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see something similar from Google in the future.

Proximity as a Ranking Factor

It’s no secret that search engines can identify a user’s approximate location (based on nearby WiFi networks and other data). What you might not know is just how granular Google can get with its geotargeted results.

A 2017 Local Search Rankings Survey from Moz found that the proximity of a searcher’s location to the point of search is the #1 ranking factor for the local pack (that box with a map and three locations that you sometimes see when searching for a local business). To put it another way, Google gives extra priority to relevant results that are geographically close to the place you’re searching from.  That means you could see different results in the local pack based on where in your city you’re searching from.

Google local pack

When I searched for “dog training Austin,” the results in the local 3-pack were relatively close to where Google placed my location.

This could be good for businesses that are trying to bring in foot traffic from a relatively small radius, but it’s not great for businesses that are trying to cast a wider net—or searchers who care about quality over proximity. For example, I’m more likely to drive a little farther than I normally would for a well-reviewed dog training service than to just pick whichever one is closest to my house.

In an article for Moz, Darren Shaw points out that Google may dial back the weight it assigns to proximity if searchers aren’t getting satisfying results. In the meantime, make sure you’re weathering this local SEO trend by claiming your listing on review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Angie’s List, and that you’re driving customer reviews to these sites. Shaw points out that if people don’t see what they’re looking for in the local pack, they’ll often click a link for a review site directly below it.

Yelp listing below Google's local pack

When I wanted to see more than the results in the local pack, I clicked the link to Yelp.

The Weight of Reviews and Links

If you’ve had any experience with local SEO in 2017, you know it’s a bitter fight to get your business to rank organically on the first search results page. Some searches deliver up to four ads at the top of the page, and ads are even sometimes prioritized in the local 3-pack. It’s an understatement to say that local SEO is getting more challenging.

It’s becoming more important than ever to prioritize link-building and customer reviews in your local SEO campaigns. These are two major factors that can help your site get organic traction and rank highly on the SERPs, even when you’re up against ads.

Let’s start with the link-building part of the equation. While Moz’s ranking factor survey found that physical proximity was the top ranking factor for the local pack, it also found that the quality of inbound links was the top ranking factor for local organic search (i.e. all the organic results outside of the local pack). The diversity of inbound links was the #3 most important factor, while the quantity of inbound links followed at #5.

Essentially, Google is giving a lot of SEO juice to local business sites that have been linked to by lots of high-quality websites. For example, if I owned a new bar in Austin that got coverage from high-traffic websites like Eater Austin, CultureMap, and Buzzfeed, Google’s algorithm would factor those links in when deciding where to rank my site for searches like “best new Austin bars.” As a bonus, those inbound links will drive new traffic to my site, introducing a larger audience to my business.

Now let’s take a look at customer reviews. There are plenty of SEO benefits when it comes to reviews:

  1. When a star-based ranking appears alongside a listing on the SERPs, it helps searchers make a snap decision about whether they’re interested in the business or not.
  2. Reviews give you unique, user-generated content for your site.
  3. Analyzing the language in reviews can help you decide what long-tail keywords to target.
  4. Google prioritizes businesses with 4+ star reviews when delivering results for “best x in city” searches.
best boutique hotels in Austin search results in local pack

The local pack results for “best boutique hotels in Austin” all have an average rating of over 4.5 stars.

What all this boils down to is that outreach needs to be a major part of your local SEO strategy for 2017. You should be reaching out to local bloggers and journalists to earn more coverage and inbound links, and you should be reaching out to past customers or clients to ask for their honest reviews. Don’t underestimate how much of a boost you could get in the search engine rankings by focusing on third-party content.

At Leverage Marketing, we have a lot to say about local SEO trends—more than we could fit in one blog post. If you’d like to talk to us about local SEO strategies for your business, contact us now.

How to Use Instagram to Promote Your Brand

There’s no question that Instagram has become a juggernaut in the social media landscape. Since Facebook acquired the platform for almost $1 billion in 2012, Instagram has surged in popularity, skyrocketing in daily active users and monetizing itself through branded hashtags, integrated ads, and more. Using Instagram as a marketing tool can enhance your brand’s success, connect you with your fans, and bolster your online presence.

Why Instagram?

You may be asking, “Why use Instagram?” If your company or brand is already successful on Facebook or other social media channels, utilizing Instagram may seem redundant or unnecessary. But marketing on Instagram allows you to interact with an age group younger than Facebook and other platforms and provides a personalized experience for your audience. Marketing with Instagram can give your followers and fans a behind-the-scenes look at your business or brand, providing them with easy opportunities to engage.

However, only 36% of online marketers use Instagram, compared to 93% of whom who use Facebook. While Instagram isn’t right for every brand, it’s worth looking into whether using Instagram as a marketing tool could be beneficial for your business.

instagram marketing stats

It only takes a quick look at Instagram’s demographics to see why the service could be essential to your business. Over 25% of Internet users were using the platform in 2015, with over 50% using it in the key demographic of 18-29-year-old people. Instagram users engage with the platform in a way other social media platforms dream about—with 4.2 billion likes on posts daily, as well 95 million photos and videos shared daily. When you use Instagram for brand marketing, you can achieve engagement rates much higher than Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

While more women than men use Instagram, people of all genders like, share, and post on Instagram—from taking food photos to live videos. Marketing on Instagram means communicating with your followers and understanding what they want. By setting specific goals for your Instagram marketing, such as increasing follower count, improving your images and videos, or deriving additional revenue, you can leverage Instagram for success.

How Can I Succeed on Instagram?

instagram marketing

Using Instagram for marketing effectively requires using the tools available. With the right tools for success, your brand or company can leverage Instagram to increase sales, visibility, and your connection with customers. Here are some of the most crucial elements:

  • Consistency and Frequency- Publish often, but not too often. The rate will depend on your brand, but it may be daily, or even 2-3 times a day. Whatever frequency leads to optimal engagement is what you should aim for—and stick to that. Being consistent with your posting will help establish credibility and allow you to keep to a schedule.
  • Understanding Your Audience/Followers– Know who follows you. You want to develop the right content, be it Instagram Stories, photos, or videos, that appeals to your audience and shows that you get Specificity may require building out buyer personas for Instagram to understand better who your followers are and could be in the future.
  • A Strong Vision and Strategy- Develop a plan for how you want your company Instagram to feel. There should be a distinct vision for your posts—a clear goal for what you’re communicating to your followers, which can be aided by…
  • A Clear Visual Style- Everything from a consistent font to a color palette to filters used for your colors should be defined for your Instagram. Create a simple visual style guide for company images to help yourself and anyone else who manages the account—perhaps go through this process with an in-house graphic designer or consultant.

By using these tools, you’ll be on the right path to success with Instagram. Other useful tools include Instagram scheduling apps, repurposing content from other platforms, and utilizing contests and giveaways to engender additional interaction with your followers.

What Kind of Content Should I Post on Instagram?

So now that you understand why you should use Instagram and how you can succeed on the platform, you might be wondering, “What kind of content I should post?” The easy answer, especially for B2C companies, is to post photos of their product, but that simply won’t get the level of engagement you want. Instagram is all about engagement, so here are some techniques for driving followers to interact with your brand:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Content- Use videos or sets of photos to show your fans what it’s like at your company. Whether your business is B2B or B2C, this helps create trust with customers and can be a fun way to provide an inside look into how your business operates. Like Snapchat, Instagram videos don’t require professional polish—they should look clean but don’t need extensive editing.
  • User-Generated Content and Customer Stories– Utilizing content produced by people who love your product or company—who are as passionate about your brand as you are—can resonate with your audience. Use Instagram to ask for user-generated content, offering a reward in the form of a gift card or another prize.
  • Hashtag Strategy- Develop a hashtag strategy for your content. Use relevant and related hashtags to your company and content for your posts to connect with other Instagram accounts and gain followers. Using Instagram hashtags may seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.
  • Be Fun, Light-Hearted, and Educational- Instagram is an exciting platform—there are so many ways to produce and edit content and reach your audience. Experimenting with different media and techniques with A/B testing and educating your followers about your brand will lead you to the right content to produce.

Marketing on Instagram for Your Brand

No matter what type of company you have, Instagram is a viable candidate for marketing today. Companies as diverse as Nike and Ben & Jerry’s have active Instagram presences, utilizing photos and videos to increase their brand visibility and connect with customers. By following Leverage’s Instagram marketing tips, you can develop a strategy for including it in your social media marketing.

Let the social media experts at Leverage help you get started marketing on Instagram today. Contact us to learn about our social media marketing services and what we can do for your company

Use Online Advertising Analysis Tool RightWord to Beat Your Competition

Are you sick of doing constant A/B testing of your ads and still not winning with Google AdWords? RightWord is Leverage Marketing’s advanced online ad copy analysis tool, which takes a closer look at words in paid search ads. You will discover which words you use to speak to your customers and lead more frequently to conversions.

RightWord is a powerful new lexical analysis tool that can improve your pay-per-click (PPC) ad copy and give you new insights into your ads. Leverage Marketing’s software uses data from tests of thousands of ads and scores individual words in those ads based on their performance. Our experienced paid search team analyzes this data to provide you with information about language that always works, words that sometimes work, and words that turn off your customers. RightWord helps you write ad copy that succeeds—and leads to more conversions.

How is This Different from A/B Testing?

RightWord goes beyond A/B testing of ads by taking the data from thousands of A/B tests already performed and analyzing them in a way other companies don’t. While split testing one ad versus another can determine which is better, RightWord will tell you which words perform better across all your ads. You’ll learn that some words are universally successful, while some language works better in certain circumstances.

Can RightWord Save Time for Me?

After an in-depth RightWord online ad copy analysis from our team, you’ll understand which words hurt your ads—and which help. You can save time by doing more impactful A/B testing and more improvement of your existing ad copy. The insights you learn from RightWord will help you enhance your AdWords account and create more successful ad campaigns.

How Will RightWord Help Defeat the Competition?

Winning ad space on Google’s AdWords platform is dependent on having the most optimized message, which RightWord can help you achieve. Leverage’s RightWord tool offers you an advantage no one else does—knowing what language performs best. You’ll be able to optimize your ad copy and beat your competition by winning ad space more easily.

Will a RightWord Online Ad Copy Analysis Help in the Future?

Even after the Leverage team analyzes your data and provides recommendations, that won’t be the end of our help. We’ll provide you with an actionable three-month ad-testing plan that you can start implementing tomorrow. Our comprehensive strategy will enable you to run better ads and save time on your A/B testing.

Why Should I Choose RightWord?

If you want an advantage against your competitors in your ads, RightWord is the tool for you. Leverage paid search analyst Michael Holeman explains, “We knew we could help clients gain a competitive edge if we had a complete way of testing ads, but there simply wasn’t any tool available that could accomplish what we needed. So, we built our own. RightWord allows us to test all of a client’s ads against each other and see, down to the single word, what made some ads outperform other ads.” Implementing RightWord strategies will enable you to write more effective ad copy and gain insights into how your language performs.

Choose RightWord to get the only in-depth online advertising analysis of A/B testing on the market. You’ll get a deep dive from an expert data analyst to give you the recommendations you need. You’ll also receive an easy-to-read report with personalized ad copy advice and a three-month ad-testing plan to improve your performance, which could lead to more conversions and beating your competitors.

Learn more about RightWord today by talking to a Leverage Marketing Analyst. Fill out our contact form today, and we’ll help you learn priceless ad copy secrets with RightWord.


5 Actionable SEO Tips for Ecommerce Websites

If you’re in the online retailing industry, you have a lot of tasks on your plate. When you’re juggling everything from marketing to fulfillment to customer service, optimizing your ecommerce site for SEO reasons may be getting pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. However, following a few ecommerce SEO best practices can be a big help in growing the number of orders you’re shipping out each day.

Read on for 5 actionable ways to step up your ecommerce site’s SEO strategy.

Simplify Your Site’s Structure

Ever browsed a site in search of a product and found yourself increasingly frustrated as you click link after link to reach your goal? We’ve all experienced this type of annoyance while online shopping, or even while choosing a restaurant. If it’s hard to get where you’re going, you’ll probably just go somewhere else. Even search engines feel this way–the deeper within the site that pages are hidden, the more time it will take for search engines to properly index your site.

When it comes to SEO for ecommerce sites, the best way to avoid this problem is to create the “flattest” site structure possible. Create a diagram of your current site structure to get a clearer view of the way your pages are organized. If some of your products are buried under six layers of subcategories or are only accessible through links on other product pages, you might want to consider having an ecommerce SEO expert audit your site structure and create a restructuring plan.

Make a Plan for Managing Old Product Pages

When you stop selling a product, it may seem easiest just to remove it from its category and delete its page. However, this isn’t a best practice for ecommerce SEO or good for users. The deleted page may have links that lead to that URL, and it may hold value on the search engine results page that brings in valuable customers. Why waste all that traffic?

Instead of completely deleting old product pages, give them a forwarding address by setting 301 redirects. This is a simple task if you’re using a platform like WordPress, as you can install a plugin like Simple 301 Redirects to help you “forward” old pages to relevant URLs that are still in use on your site.

Don’t squander a good link with an error message.

Watch Out for Duplicate Content

Many ecommerce companies have a wide range of products and not a lot of time to write unique descriptions for each of them. Sometimes, online retailers use the manufacturer’s product descriptions or reuse bits and pieces of content on different product pages. However, this isn’t the wisest choice when it comes to ecommerce SEO.

While it can be a time-consuming process, it is worth your while to audit your product content for originality as well as user experience. Think about what potential customers are typing into the search bar when they’re looking for your item and make sure you include those search terms in the descriptive content. Check to see that each page’s content brings value to the customer as well as to the search engine that crawls it.

Add Product Reviews

You may be surprised to see this suggestion on a list of ecommerce SEO tips, but product reviews matter in the SEO world, too! If your site isn’t currently making use of product reviews, it’s time to consider it for both your customers’ and search engines’ sake. Product reviews help your site accumulate more content and avoid the duplicate content issues mentioned above, and having reviews accessible is a great way to show off your great products and encourage quicker conversions.

Reviews generate a lot of original content, help your customers convert, and help you find out how to improve–what’s not to love?

Step Up Your Security Efforts

Both search engines and your customers care about security, and so should you. Sites that use HTTPS encryption rather than simply HTTP are becoming increasingly common, and retailers without HTTPS are likely to fall behind the curve soon if they haven’t already. Google has announced that their algorithm uses HTTPS as a ranking signal, meaning that it prefers to reward higher rankings to sites that are secured with HTTPS. Over time, making the switch could make a big difference in the SEO successes of your ecommerce site. If you haven’t already, make the switch sooner rather than later.

On a similar note, displaying badges of security and safety on highly visible places of your site (such as near the “Add to Cart” button) is a good way to assure customers that your business won’t rip them off or otherwise cause problems. For a safety-conscious consumer, this can make all the difference between a conversion and a bounce.

Looking for more tips on how to get the most out of your ecommerce site? Subscribe to the Leverage Marketing newsletter for a regular dose of digital marketing info, or get in touch with our team to find out how we help businesses grow with the help of our expert ecommerce SEO knowledge.

What Encourages People to Complete Online Forms? [UPDATED]

We originally published this post back in 2015. Since a lot can change in the online world in two years, we’ve published an updated version for 2017. 

The purpose of an online form is to collect information from site visitors, so it’s always baffling when websites make it difficult or confusing for visitors to share their information. If it requires a Herculean effort for your users to fill out a form, they’re not going to do it, and you’re going to lose out on a conversion and/or valuable customer data.

So how do you cut down on user effort and make your form super appealing? You could deploy robot assistants to fill out the form while customers dictate… or you could use the tips below to improve the user experience.

Make Benefits Clear

Nobody’s going to fill out a form just because they think it will make employees at your company happy—you need to make it clear that the user is getting some direct benefit that outweighs the cost of submitting their information.

If space allows, briefly outline a few reasons someone should complete the form. For an ecommerce site, these might include a faster checkout process or exclusive email offers. For a B2B site, these might include access to original research and industry insider information.

Online form outlining clear benefits of ebook download

Foundr Magazine gives readers a preview of their ebook and explains how it will be beneficial.

Keep Fields to a Minimum

What sounds better: filling in 3 fields, or filling in 15? Unless you’re the rare online form enthusiast, you’ll want to fill in as little as possible, and so will your customers. If your online form currently rivals War and Peace in length, it’s time to look at what you can cut out.

Avoid optional fields whenever possible. Very few users are going to fill in more than the bare minimum, so anything optional tends to be a waste of space. Stick with only the fields you need in order to meet your goals with the form: in some cases, this could just be a name and email address.


Simple email form for free trial

Podio keeps it simple: users just have to enter their work email to start a free trial.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. For example, if you’re using a simple form for lead generation but find you’re getting too many unqualified leads, you may need to add several fields and ask more targeted questions to hone in on the right audience.  
If you do have a complex form that you can’t cut down, try grouping fields into subsections like ‘Account Info’ and ‘Contact Info’ in order to make the form less daunting. You can also break the form up into manageable steps, but if you do this, make sure you use a progress bar so that users know exactly how many steps they have to complete.

Use Real-Time Validation to Reduce Errors

Have you ever completed a form only to hit the submit button and see a message in red text saying you’ve made an error? It’s a frustrating experience and one that can be easily avoided if you use real-time validation.

With real-time validation, a user is informed that they’ve made an error as soon as it happens. For example, if they enter their phone number with dashes, they might get a notification next to the field telling them they need to remove the dashes. It streamlines the form fill process and saves the user from hunting down a single error after they’ve completed the entire form.

registration form with real-time validation

Source: Ire Aderinokun, Bits of Code

Avoid Boring Call-to-Action Buttons

A call-to-action button that just says ‘Submit’ doesn’t tell a user much, other than that they’re sending their information off to your company’s database. Give users a reason to click that CTA by customizing it so that it tells them what they’re getting.  If they’ve filled out this form to access your new eBook, the CTA might say ‘Download Your Free eBook’.

It’s also important to make the CTA button easy to see. It should ideally be a color that’s distinct from the other colors on the page and surrounded by plenty of white space.

Online form with creative CTA button

Treehouse makes it personal by inviting you to “Claim Your Free Trial”

Keep Mobile Users in Mind

Over three-quarters of American adults now own a smartphone, so it’s more important than ever to think about mobile users when designing your forms.

To make your form as easy as possible to fill out on a mobile device, use smart defaults whenever possible. If you need a user’s location, you might be able to populate that field based on GPS data. If you need their language, populate that field using their browser’s default language.

Labels should be directly above each field rather than to the side. On a narrow smartphone screen, left-align labels leave less space for the field itself, and users may not be able to see their entire input (making them more likely to make errors).

Remember that mobile users are working with a touchscreen. Leave enough room between fields so that a user can easily touch and activate one without accidentally activating another element of the form.

A/B Test Your Forms

Think your online form looks good? There’s still room to fine-tune it using cold, hard data. Choose a variable to test (such as the CTA button) and then create two versions of the form, changing only this one variable. Your digital marketing team can help you run both versions so that you can see which gets more submitted forms. Keep testing other variables one at a time in order to hone in on your optimal form.

Need help with your online form design? Our Leverage team offers web design services for ecommerce and lead generation businesses, and we’d be happy to talk.

How to Use Social Media for Ecommerce

For ecommerce businesses, social media is going to become and may already be one of the most formidable arenas for advertising to potential customers. If you’re an ecommerce business owner, you can take advantage of the reach of social media to find potential customers at any part of the sales funnel.

hands holding purple box toward customer for marketing on social mediaUse of social media as an advertising tool for ecommerce businesses is sneaking up on social network addicts as well as the businesses and marketers that advertise to them. The birth and rapid expansion of influencer marketing has also pushed shoppers to start their buyer’s journey on popular social websites like Instagram and Facebook.

In those same places, advertisers are dropping chunks of their advertising budgets on videos that demand viewer attention and get them interested in products about which they didn’t know. Ecommerce sites may still be able to generate significant revenue without social media presence, but they will be missing out on an enormous audience of potential buyers – an audience that their competition may already be targeting.

Not convinced? These facts and statistics about social media for ecommerce businesses may change your mind:

how to use social media for ecommerce facts and statistics infographic


Get into Social Media for Your Ecommerce Business Now

Building a social media presence doesn’t happen overnight. You can use social media as one of your main advertising channels for your products, but you have to build an audience first, and if you want to make money, it better be a large audience.

Plus, you’ll need to figure out where your branding fits into your social media persona. Grab your accounts now, and if you already have them, start posting as soon as possible with product descriptions, special offers, and quick graphics and advertisements.

Information and data provided in this article and in the attached infographic were assembled and revised from articles provided by experts at the following websites:

The Telegraph


Your friendly Leverage Marketing team is already hard at work creating social media opportunities for ecommerce businesses. We know how to push product announcements, bring in customers for awesome sales, and find new audiences for your products. Talk to one of us today to learn more, and don’t forget to join our newsletter for invaluable marketing know-how you won’t find anywhere else!