While there’s certainly still a place for marketing professionals in this world, it’s astonishing what you can do for free these days. With the help of some simple yet solid – and free – WordPress plugins, you can perform marketing functions that used to require a crew of experts and wheelbarrows of money.

Free is a very good price – if the plugin does what you want in a way that doesn’t make you wish you’d never heard of it. I test-drove a dozen free WordPress marketing plugins, and four of them did what they said they would, in a straightforward way, with a reasonable user interface, with adequate documentation, and without giving me the WordPress White Screen of Death.

In this article, I’ll look at why you’ll want these WordPress plugins to kickstart your marketing efforts and what your experience will be like.

1. MailPoet

MailPoet

MailPoet enables you to sign up subscribers on your website using a widget and then create and send newsletters and automated emails.

Why Use Email Marketing?

Customers prefer email marketing. In a MarketingSherpa survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults, 72% said they preferred to be communicated with via email over any other way, including social media and telephone. The same report says that 91% of U.S. adults actually like receiving promotional emails from companies they have relationships with.

Email marketing is highly effective. In a study by the Direct Marketing Association, the overall response rate for email was only 0.12%, but the ROI on email was 28.5% (compared to 7% ROI on direct mail, with a response rate of 3.4%). The MarketingSherpa study shows that 69% of those polled have bought after being influenced by an email.

Email marketing puts you in control. You can send emails to your prospect and customer lists whenever you want – as long as you don’t get irritating about it. That means that instead of waiting around for the customer to do something to move towards a sale, you can do something; repeatedly and directly. You can also fine tune your list and speak to different customer personas in different emails. Two more pluses that put you in control with email marketing: You don’t need a designer to create attractive emails, and you will know within a couple of days how big a response your email call-to-action is getting.

What MailPoet Does

MailPoet content editorMailPoet doesn’t have the features list of plugins like MailChimp, but it does an awful lot still and is amazingly easy to use. It has been downloaded over 3 million times and still manages to keep a 5-star rating.

You can easily install it using the WordPress Plugins menu. You’ll then get a MailPoet menu in your WP administrative sidebar with three submenus:

  1. The Newsletters submenu contains a draft newsletter ‘User Guide’ that enables you to experiment with the drag-and-drop interface. You can choose from about 50 free themes or create your own – add and format titles and text, insert various styles of dividers, add images and (some) social media icons.
  2. You can view your email list via the Subscribers submenu. Here is where the info from people who sign up via your website forms goes – email address and name. You can add and edit lists here, manually add subscribers, and import and export email lists. You can also see when recipients have opened, and clicked in, your email message.
  3. The Settings submenu enables you to design forms to collect site visitors’ email address and name via a simple drag-and-drop interface. Here is also where you can enable signup confirmation (if you want the subscriber to confirm via email), add a subscribe checkbox for someone leaving a comment, and implement simple sending options. You can also find links to free and premium add-ons – for instance, if you have an online store using Jigoshop or WooCommerce, you can easily add a checkbox at checkout for customers to sign up for your newsletter. Another add-on option is to integrate MailPoet with our Coming Soon Page plugin, so you can begin collecting subscribers before your site is even live.

MailPoet has extraordinary technical support for a free plugin, in that it pledges to answer questions from users of the free version within 24 hours. The premium version (starting at $99 per year) cuts that maximum time to 12 hours and also provides integrated statistical reporting to help you make sense of the results of your email marketing campaigns.

2. Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress is a free plugin that integrates Google Analytics with your WordPress site. (Not to be confused with the normal Google Analytics Dashboard).

Why Use Google Analytics?

Google Analytics integrated with WordPressGoogle Analytics is a comprehensive free service that provides traffic statistics for your website.

You can discover not only how many visitors your site receives, but also where they are geographically, what browsers they use, how long they stay on your site, what they do there, how they got there, at what time, via which search engines or web pages, and much, much more.

These statistics are extremely useful in figuring out who your prospects and customers are, in adjusting your website content to attract them, and in determining marketing strategies to leverage your online strengths.

What Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress Does

Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress inserts a tracking code on each of your website pages, and then displays real-time statistics and reports regarding your site visitors directly on your WordPress dashboard and in your Post and Page screens. This free plugin has been downloaded over two million times and has an excellent star rating.

You need a free Google Analytics account to get started. Then install Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress as you would any other plugin. You’ll be offered links to a video and a tutorial, and you can then authorize your account and get a secure access code.

Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress shows the numbers of site and page visitors in real time, along with where the traffic is coming from, displayed in tables or graphs. For instance, it can show your visitors by country on a map or in a chart, while local businesses can choose to display visitors by regional cities instead.

3. Supreme Google Webfonts

Supreme Google Webfonts

Supreme Google Webfonts is a free plugin that makes the open-source Google Fonts type kit available for use in your WordPress website content.

Why Use Google Fonts?

In the past, website design had some good excuses for looking less than dazzling when it came to typography. If you wanted to make sure that everyone seeing your website would see the correct fonts – and thus the layout you had in mind – you could only use web-safe fonts, and there weren’t very many of them, so it was hard to make a typographic impact the way designers do with print media.

But these days, most browsers can display hundreds of font faces correctly, and web design has well and truly woken up to that fact. Get inspired by these examples of great web typography using Google Fonts, by these trends in 2015 for using Google Fonts, and by these examples of how various font pairs look together.

When used with a professional eye, typography gives your marketing a definite kick. Learn how to use it well, and your impact will grow.

What Supreme Google Webfonts Does

The Supreme Google Webfonts plugin enables you to easily use fonts from the Google Fonts type kit in your web pages and posts. This means that everyone who sees your site will see the correct fonts because your website pulls the fonts from Google Fonts’ online repository. With over 4,000 active installs, this plugin garners a nearly-perfect star rating.

Just install Supreme Google Webfonts as you would any other plugin, then all you have to do is navigate to Settings > Writing and select the checkboxes of the fonts you want to use. Then, in the visual editor of your page or post, you’ll see a third row in the formatting area, with a drop-down menu for selecting fonts and font sizes.

4. Popup Maker

Popup Maker

Popup Maker lets you create and control popup windows on your website.

Why Use Popups?

It’s no accident that popups are all over the web – they work.

People tend to find popup windows annoying, yet popups consistently have higher conversion rates than alternatives. Sometimes much higher, with reports of increases of 600% and more.

So the risk of irritating your site visitors may well be worth it, as popups force them to look at what you want them to see. But the technique is intrusive, and if you want to use it, you should familiarize yourself with best practices and examples of people who are doing it right.

What Popup Maker Does

With 7,000 active installs and a near-perfect star rating, you should have a good experience using Popup Maker.

Its WYSIWIG content editor enables you to put ‘any content you can imagine’ inside your popups. It lets you use forms created with other plugins, such as Gravity Forms and Ninja Forms. Plus, the company offers to educate you to ‘drastically improve your conversion rates using Popup Maker’ via tutorials and guides.

Conclusion

With just these four plugins, you have enough marketing possibilities at your fingertips to keep you much busier than you want to be.

But at least, if my experience is any guide, the time will be spent on actually improving your marketing, rather than being knocked down and hog-tied by free plugins that truly aren’t worth the price.

Enjoy, experiment, and go easy on the fonts ;-)

Launching a WooCommerce powered website?

Now you can collect emails before you launch your WooCommerce store and use the popular Follow Up Emails plugins for WooCommerce to send you launch emails. Coming Soon Pro is proud to include this integration to help make your store a success.

Key Features of Follow Up Emails Plugin

  • One-time cost. No monthly or per-email costs. Unlimited sends. Unlimited contacts.
  • Targeted emails to your customers and prospects
  • Automate emails, on your defined schedule
  • Fully supported, maintained, and updated
  • Easy to setup – no complicated integrations, APIs, or additional accounts
  • Easily create emails to manage your business communications with individuals directly from WooCommerce interface versus your email client
  • Offer discounts in your emails with integrated coupons
  • Full-featured reporting on email sends, opens, clicks, and communication by customer
  • Google Analytics integration
  • Numerous variables to allow you to integrate customer and order data into your emails

Learn More

Let’s get straight to it. You’re going to feel that your new website’s launch was a success if you attract a lot of visitors who are engaged enough to:

  • read your content,
  • give you their email address,
  • share your content on social media,
  • follow your social media channels, and/or
  • come back to your site another day

These are valuable goals, and you can accomplish them all before your all-singing-and-dancing website is even visible to the Internet-surfing public by using a ‘Coming Soon’ page.

A Coming Soon page is a placeholder for what your site will soon be that can offer enticements for visitors to engage in all of the ways listed above. It can also encourage them to show up at your launch, so that you’re not left only with the sound of crickets and a sinking heart.

With all that in mind, in this article I’m going to focus on how you can market your WordPress website before it is even ready to reveal the public by revealing six different strategies you can employ ahead of the big launch day.

How a Coming Soon Page Moves Your Site’s Marketing Forward

If you know enough Internet history to be familiar with the ‘Under Construction’ pages of yore, you may feel some discomfort when considering placing a page on your domain name stating that your website isn’t quite ready yet. Back in the ’90s, it was a real drag to load a site and see some hard-hatted cartoon character with a sawhorse and an open manhole telling you you’d completely wasted your time by coming to this location.

'Under Construction' graphic

This is not what we’re talking about.

But today’s Coming Soon page is so far evolved from its Stone Age placeholder ancestor that it hardly seems like the same species. At some point, some genius had the idea: “Hey! Instead of just telling visitors we’re not here, we could tell them stuff about us!”, and the rest is history.

With complete professionalism and credibility, you can use a Coming Soon page to establish your brand, create anticipation, grow your email list, jump-start your social media presence, nurture customer engagement, and catalyze your launch’s potential, all while you’re busy building your website behind the scenes.

And you can do it with ease by using a user-friendly plugin such as SeedProd for WordPress, which can put you in direct control of some massive capabilities.

1. Jumpstart Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It takes time to get your website indexed by search engines. Google is not exactly forthcoming about how they do things, but the scuttlebutt is that after it indexes a new website for the first time – which can take a few days or a few weeks – it pretty much sets the site aside for a few months to see whether it seems to be worth further investigation. It’s common for a brand new domain to take six to eight months to rank well in Google search results.

However, when you use a Coming Soon page, the countdown to search engine ranking starts sooner. Google will likely find your site before you’ve truly launched it (probably well before, the way launch schedules invariably tend to go). They don’t care that your website says ‘Coming Soon’ – they will treat it like a real (new) site.

Google – via their head of webspam and SEO celebrity, Matt Cutts – have actually stated that a Coming Soon page is a good idea:

Don’t worry about search engines checking out your site before it’s got much in the way of content. In the pre-launch phase, the point is to earn the search engines’ trust – to have them know that you exist and that you’re a well-behaved site. You can dazzle them later with your multitudinous pages of content.

For SEO purposes, your Coming Soon page should include a brief description of what your site is up to and generally utilize best practices. Its very existence provides a means for people to (a) discover you, and (b) link to you, giving you a key start in terms of SEO.

2. Create a Simple Media Kit

A media kit is like your company’s résumé. You’re going to have to create one by the time your site launches anyway, so you might as well do it now – thereby adding descriptive content to your site (giving both search engines and human beings something to dig their teeth into) – and elevating your site with enough useful information in place so you can schmooze the press.

With your Coming Soon page, you should have a link for media sources who may be interested in talking to you, including bloggers you may want to network with.

By linking from your Coming Soon page to your media kit – or to its individual elements – you keep your main page clean and focused, while branding your site as professional enough to provide the press what they need in order to publicize you. It was good – and smart – of you not to force them to track down this information about your enterprise themselves if they want to feature your business.

Your website page design may still be nowhere near final, but no worries; your media kit can be as simple as creating a PDF and uploading it. Here are some great examples. Keep in mind, though, that it’s the text search engines look at, not so much the graphics. With that in mind, here are some great tips for optimizing PDFs for SEO.

Media kit sample

Your media kit can be as simple – or as beautiful – as you like.

What should be in your media kit? A thousand websites have a million ideas. Some media kits provide nothing but a version or two of their logo for download. But to really do yourself and the press a favor, your media kit should include at least:

  • contact info,
  • a company overview,
  • biographies of key players,
  • a FAQ, and
  • any media coverage you’ve already received.

3. Create a Blog

Just because you don’t have a website (yet) doesn’t mean you have nothing to say. You can write about your industry, service or product. You can write about problems and how you solve them. In fact, you can write about anything that will move your brand forward.

If you can create shareable or viral blog posts, and create posts that other sites want to link to, your content will be worth its virtual weight in gold. And remember, unique content that other people link to will make search engines love you.

Justin Jackson's "This is a web page" article

Justin Jackson’s “This is a web page” article proves how compelling words alone can be.

WordPress makes it easy to create a blog, and with the SeedProd plugin for WordPress it’s easy to link visitors from your Coming Soon page to your blog – even though your actual website does not yet exist.

4. Build Your Email List

Experts say that your email list is one of your greatest assets. It’s remarkably cost-effective, plus it has a high conversion rate, and is useful for letting people know when your site has new content.

During the pre-launch phase, your email list enables you to notify interested people of your progress toward launch, to find beta testers, to ask for feedback, to make pre-sales and to build buzz in multiple ways.

Using a WordPress plugin like SeedProd, you can easily set your Coming Soon page up to collect email addresses from visitors. You can entice them to subscribe to your email list by promising them updates, a prize giveaway, a chance to beta test, first crack at usernames, or by giving something away for free such as a PDF or video series.

SeedProd integration services list

SeedProd is fully integrated with all of the above services.

SeedProd (and some other plugins) also make it easy to connect your email subscription sign-up form to an email marketing service provider such as MailChimp in order to make sending bulk emails simple, and to manage your mailing list.

5. Get a Head Start on Social Media

Social media networks

Before you launch your website is the perfect time to begin building up your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube and other social media channels. Create accounts, make a profile, and post content.

On your Coming Soon page, you can show icons that link to your website’s various social media accounts so that visitors can follow what you’re posting.

Furthermore, you can also show icons that let your visitors click to share your site on their social media accounts.

Conclusion

There’s no need to wait until your website is live before you take the internet by storm.

By using a Coming Soon page, you can engage visitors in ways that are extremely useful in advancing your marketing goals, and start building a community of loyal fans even though, behind the scenes, you may still be figuring out whether your product is animal, vegetable or mineral.

Best of all, all of the above can be achieved in relatively little time. Take just one day (or less) to execute all of the above with the help of a time-saving plugin like SeedProd. And if you have any questions, just get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help!

Image Credits: Wikimedia and Anna

Embedding a YouTube video in WordPress is quite easy. Here are two methods.

Method 1

Step 1 – Copy the video’s url

Adding a YouTube video in WordPress

 

Step 2 – Paste the url into the visual editor. Make sure the url is on t’s own line and not linked or formatted in any way. The video should now be embedded.

Embedding a YouTube Video in WordPress

 

Method 2

Step 1 – Configure and Copy the embed code provided by YouTube

Manually embedding a YouTube Video in WordPress

Step 2 – Paste the embed code in the text tab of the editor. The YouTube video is now embed with you page or post in WordPress.

Adding a YouTube iframe embed to WordPress

 

 

 

A Coming Soon page enables you to present a professional front while, behind the scenes, you (and perhaps your team) work to put your website together. It can also give new sites a head start on getting indexed by search engines – the leader of Google’s anti-spam team says it’s a good idea to use one.

But a Coming Soon page can easily do much more. According to WPBeginner, they’re a ‘crucial component’ of a successful site launch. With a good – or dare I say, perfect – Coming Soon page, you can give your site’s launch a seriously big boost.

With the above said, in this post I’ll look at the anatomy of the ‘perfect’ Coming Soon page – five elements that maximize its value to you and your site. Then I’ll finish up by pointing you in the right direction to get started with your very own Coming Soon page.

Gator Treks Coming Soon Page

1. The Perfect Coming Soon Page Is Quick and Easy to Put Together

A Coming Soon page is the first port of call for any would-be future fan, and thus is extremely important to your website’s overall launch performance.

However, pouring a great deal of time and money into something that is ultimately only temporary does not make a great deal of sense. Your Coming Soon page should be quick and easy to put together, while still enabling you to project a professional image.

As such, you shouldn’t need to spend an inordinate amount of time on your Coming Soon page, nor should you need to know coding (or employ someone who does) to put it together. Your Coming Soon page should be up and running – with relative ease – soon after you make the decision to create one.

2. The Perfect Coming Soon Page Helps You to Build Buzz

Your Coming Soon page can act as a teaser. It can be as simple as your logo and the words ‘coming soon’ (and perhaps a link to more information). This can be very effective for certain brands (especially if you’re already a known entity in your industry).

Alternatively, your Coming Soon page can describe your upcoming site, your products, your mission, your story, and/or your plans. It can share contact info, videos, links to your blog, company bios, and/or a press kit.

Both are viable strategies, so pick the one that suits your business. But whichever one you choose, it should enable you to implement ‘buzz-building’ elements with relative ease.

Revista Coming Soon Page

3. The Perfect Coming Soon Page Contributes to Your Branding

Your Coming Soon page can use your logo, your ‘corporate colors’, and perhaps the same fonts and graphical elements. In other words, it should look like it was tailor-made for your brand.

When implemented successfully, people who have seen your Coming Soon page will feel right at home when they visit your ‘real’ site for the first time. Meanwhile, you can feel good about promoting your upcoming site, knowing that you’re presenting a professional appearance.

4. The Perfect Coming Soon Page Builds Your Email List

Your Coming Soon page should offer a quick and easy way for visitors to subscribe to your email list. This is perhaps more important than anything else – it can make all the difference between an explosive launch or a damp squib.

You might reasonably ask why people would subscribe to an email list when your site doesn’t actually exist yet. This is where creative incentives come into play. Here are a few suggestions as to how you might tempt visitors into joining your list:

  • Send them exclusive news and updates
  • Let them know (before anyone else) when the site is launched
  • Let them sign up for beta testing
  • Promote a prize giveaway
  • Give something away (free PDF report, video series, etc.)

To make the above process simple, you should be able to link the signup form on your Coming Soon page to whatever email marketing service you use (some of the most popular examples being AWeber, MailChimp and Campaign Monitor).

5. The Perfect Coming Soon Page Harnesses the Power of Social Media

Social media has a big role to play in the launch of any website these days. As such, it behooves you to make the very most of its potential in getting the word out about your site.

In practical terms, visitors should be able to share the news of your upcoming launch via their social media profiles with absolute ease. It should literally involve just one or two clicks.

Furthermore, your Coming Soon page should provide prominent links to your own social media accounts. In reality, visitors are far more likely to hear about your launch via their Facebook or Twitter feed than they are by browsing back to your site at some point in the future. Make it easy for them.

Conclusion

So there you have it folks – a quick and easy list of the five key elements that make up the ‘perfect’ Coming Soon page.

But what next? We’ve covered the theory, but what about the steps necessary for practical implementation? Fortunately, we’ve got you covered on that front too.

SeedProd logoWhile we don’t want to toot our own horn too much, we offer a great solution for building effective Coming Soon pages with ease: SeedProd. We’re not the only option out there, but we do think we’re the best.

So, please feel free to consider the various options out there, but make sure that SeedProd is on your list. And if you have any questions or comments, just fire away below and we’ll get right back to you!

There has been a recent onslaught of security vulnerabilities in some popular community and premium plugins. The most recent include WordPress SEO, Pods and Gravity Forms. Each of these plugins were vulnerable to Blind SQL Injection and all were similar in nature. But there have been several others including a MailPoet’s file upload vulnerability disclosed by Sucuri and the WP All Import remote code execution that I remember seeing.

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