Prospect Genius Reviews: WordPress for Website Hosting

When shopping around for website hosting options, you likely came across WordPress. WordPress is a widely popular content management system (CMS) used by small businesses and bloggers alike. But is it right for you? How well does it lend itself to the website needs of small businesses? In this installment of “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll find some answers.

WordPress logo

First, to be clear, there are two branches of the WordPress enterprise: WordPress.org and WordPress.com. They each provide different features for different needs. WordPress.com is free, gives users a sub-domain (e.g. “yourblogname.wordpress.com”), and doesn’t offer any customization. WordPress.org, on the other hand, while also free, offers total customization in exchange for you having to arrange all of your own website hosting and maintenance. This means WordPress.com is typically used by casual bloggers while WordPress.org is usually used by entrepreneurs and small businesses that need their sites to do more. For this reason, our discussion in today’s “Prospect Genius Reviews…” will focus exclusively on WordPress.org.

How Easy Is WordPress to Use?

This is the question at the top of almost every small business owner’s mind. Do you need a degree in website design to be able to use it? Thankfully, no. The program is super easy and built to be as intuitive as possible.

While you do have full control over your content and design, WordPress.org has a huge variety of themes and plug-ins available to make the customization process much easier for you. If you want to customize your layout or add a few bells and whistles, it’s just a matter of clicking a few buttons. You don’t need to be a coding wizard at all.

The only downside is that the onus is on you to take care of regular program updates, spam control, content backups, and other maintenance tasks. This will require a moderate degree of monitoring on your part (and, unfortunately, monitoring = time). However, WordPress once again makes things super easy for the user. For example, if you’re familiar with smartphone apps, then you’ll be familiar with the simple, one-click process of installing a WordPress update. Plus, WordPress has a built-in feature that you can enable to block spam and several plug-ins that make backups a breeze.

How Much Does a WordPress Website Cost?

WordPress.org is free to use as a CMS, but you’ll incur other, minimal costs in the process of hosting and maintaining a website. These are unavoidable no matter which CMS you use:

  • You have to pay a small, annual fee for your domain.
  • You have to pay a monthly or yearly fee for your site’s hosting.

Depending on which service provider you use, you could pay anywhere between $50 and $150 per year. Even if you wind up on the high end of that spectrum, it’s a pretty low price to pay for a fully functional, hosted website.

One caveat: This price applies to business owners who are creating all of their own content for their website. If you want to hire a marketing team or copywriter to write your content, then you can expect to pay a one-time fee per page.

What’s the Verdict?

Prospect Genius reviews WordPress very favorably as a website platform for small businesses. In fact, we use it ourselves!

We love it because it allows us to fully customize the appearance and functionality of our website without costing much overhead. Plus, our non-tech-savvy team members (ahem, writers) are able to use it to update content despite their lack of web design expertise. With WordPress, we get the website we want without too many technical headaches.

We confidently recommend WordPress.org for your small business website.

Next time, on “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll take a look at website grader tools.

Prospect Genius Reviews: Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a free, online tool that provides insight into the kind of information people are searching for online. It’s championed by content creators and marketers as an effective means of figuring out what their audiences want to know more about. The question is: Does Answer the Public’s utility translate to small business owners, too? That’s what we’ll discuss this time on “Prospect Genius Reviews…”

How Does Answer the Public Work?

Before we dive into how well Answer the Public works for small business owners, though, we should briefly review how it works, period.

When you first go to the home page, you simply type in one of your business’s keywords and select your country. Then, Answer the Public generates a visual graphic to show all the questions and phrases people are frequently using when searching for that keyword. This data tells you what kind of specific information “the public” wants about that keyword, so you can put it in the right context.
mobile search on smartphone

To quote its own website, Answer the Public is meant to give you “a hint of the motivations & emotions of the people behind each search query.”

We experimented with the tool by using “SEO company” as our keyword. Answer the Public tells us that users are asking questions like:

  • “How much does an SEO company charge?”
  • “Why hire a professional SEO company?”
  • “What makes a good SEO company?”
  • “Who is a good SEO company?

They’re also searching for phrases like:

  • “Best SEO company for real estate”
  • “SEO company for contractors”
  • “SEO company for photographers”
  • “SEO company for small business”
  • “Best local SEO company for Google”

And so on.

From just this one example, you can see how Answer the Public shows us what kind of context we should be focusing on when marketing ourselves as an SEO company.

What Are the Benefits of Using Answer the Public?

As we mentioned above, Answer the Public’s primary goal is to illustrate the context in which certain keywords are being searched. This presents limitless opportunities for honing your content and zeroing in on exactly what kinds of questions and concerns your target customers would like you to address.

To that end, Answer the Public truly can be utilized by anyone looking for a little creative inspiration. However, it especially benefits small business owners who:

  • Struggle to come up with topics to write about on their blogs.
  • Need more ideas for social media posts.
  • Seek a better understanding of what their desired customers want.
  • Need a more accurate way to target their website content and keywords for SEO.

These are all common issues facing web savvy business owners like you. You know you need to improve your online content and speak to your audience with a clearer focus, but you can’t figure out how.

That’s what makes Answer the Public so beneficial to small business owners with limited resources. You don’t exactly have the funding for market research or focus groups. But Answer the Public is a free way to find out what the general public wants to learn more about, and that’s a terrific place to start.

Are There Any Downsides?

Obviously, nothing is perfect. And as a free, online tool, Answer the Public is no exception.

For example, as Elisa Gabbert of WordStream notes, Answer the Public does not provide any search volume data with the phrases and questions it presents you. Therefore, you can’t tell right away which queries are more popular than others (and, thus, which ones you should be focusing on first). However, Gabbert goes on to say that you can easily remedy this issue by using another keyword tool (even Google Keyword Planner) to check the numbers on whichever query you want to use.

What’s the Verdict?

Prospect Genius reviews Answer the Public with a high degree of positivity and excitement. Once we discovered this tool, we immediately started thinking about how we could implement it in our own content strategy. Plus, it’s a free tool, so there’s nothing to lose.

Try it out for your own small business today and let us know what you think!

Stay tuned for the next edition of “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” when we’ll discuss the pros and cons of using WordPress to host your website.

Prospect Genius Reviews: Call Tracking

Have you heard of call tracking? We’re not talking about the NSA—we’re talking about a service that keeps track of your small business’s incoming calls. Some online advertising companies recently are boasting about the call-tracking services they offer to clients. But what exactly is call tracking? And how valuable is it to your small business’s online advertising needs? That’s what we’ll tackle in this edition of “Prospect Genius Reviews…”

Let’s get started!

call tracking graph

First, let’s talk about how call tracking works. There are many different types of programs out there, but here’s the gist: You connect one specific phone number to your call-tracking program, and that program keeps track of all the incoming calls you receive on that phone line. Your program may even record the phone conversations on this line, too.

Typically, calling-tracking services assign a unique phone number for your campaign. You can include this number on a specific ad, flyer, directory listing, or website to see how many calls are generated by each platform. It’s an accurate, straightforward way to determine the value of your efforts.

So if you have an online marketing campaign that uses call tracking, you’ll be able to see exactly how many incoming calls you receive from the campaign. In other words, you’re able to precisely measure the effectiveness of your campaign.

That’s why “Prospect Genius Reviews” strongly recommends finding an online advertising company that offers call-tracking service. Without it, it’s very difficult to discern how well your investment is actually paying off. Why would you want to continue paying for an advertising campaign if you can’t be certain whether your calls are coming from this campaign or something else?

Beyond ROI concerns, however, call tracking offers additional practical benefits, as well. For example:

  • You can use call tracking to listen to recorded conversations between your employees and customers. This helps you keep tabs on how effective your customer service and sales reps are and allows you to determine where they can improve.
  • You can also use these recordings to develop a sales plan. By going back and listening to customers, you can take notes on what types of services people are repeatedly asking about.
  • You can use call data to identify the specific days and hours when you receive the highest volume of calls. Having this knowledge will help you plan your staff scheduling, i.e. when you need to be available to answer the phone versus when you can load up on off-site jobs.
  • You can use your call log as your business’s contacts list. Caller info is stored in your log, making it easy for you to follow up with customers.

The results of using call tracking are overwhelmingly positive. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the few downsides some small businesses may encounter. These include:

  • Having to use a call-tracking phone number, separate from your own, for your online promotions.
  • Losing all the advertising tied to your call-tracking number if you end your campaign.
  • Having to go through all of your listings and update your phone number if you end your campaign.

Sure, these downsides may cause a headache or two, but we think the benefits of call tracking far outweigh the negatives.

If you’re a small, local service provider on the hunt for an online advertiser, you’ll want to make call tracking a top priority. Any online advertising company or local SEO provider worth its salt will offer call tracking because it’s a transparent way to demonstrate value. If a company doesn’t offer it, then that company probably isn’t too confident in the ROI it delivers. Run away.

(Full disclosure: Prospect Genius includes call tracking in many of our online advertising services.)

You can learn more about the benefits of call tracking here and here.

Stay tuned for the next installment of “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” when we’ll discuss the free content-inspiration tool Answer the Public.

Prospect Genius Reviews: Instagram’s New Business Tools

Instagram is not a new topic for “Prospect Genius Reviews…” Back in July 2015, nearly a year ago, we examined the popular social media platform as it pertains to small, local businesses. Ultimately, we concluded it’s a worthwhile platform insofar as it ups your company’s social signals and creates a broader presence for you online. In terms of generating leads, however, we found it was lacking.

instagram with pad and paper

But those lead-generating abilities may be about to change. Just last week, Instagram announced the launch of “Instagram Business Tools.” Will these tools, which include free business profiles, do more to help local companies get in front of their desired customers? Time will tell, as Instagram’s new business tools are still in their infancy and haven’t been rolled out to everyone just yet. So in this special edition of “Prospect Genius Reviews,” we’ll assess the potential of Instagram’s new business tools and tell you if we think they’re worth trying for your small, local business.

For roughly a year now, Instagram has offered a suite of advertising tools geared toward helping users who wish to promote their accounts and grow their followings. However, according to Instagram’s announcement last week, many small business owners felt like their needs weren’t being fully accommodated.

Now, Instagram’s new business tools distinguish themselves from those previous offerings by functioning specifically for businesses. If you’re a business owner, you can now switch to a business profile, which contains features tailored to make Instagram work for your unique, commercial needs.

Switching to a business profile gets you:

  • Space to list your address (if you have a storefront) and website URL.
  • A “contact” button that allows you to choose whether it leads to someone texting you, e-mailing you, or calling you.
  • Promoted posts that are similar to Facebook ads in the various ways they can be targeted and tracked.
  • Insights (data about your post performance and audience behavior) that are simpler than the previous format.

Instagram’s promoted posts are what most business owners will want to utilize if attracting new customers is their goal. Promoted posts operate in much the same way as Facebook’s ads, which many local businesses have had success with. Facebook’s interface is easy to use, and Instagram’s appears to mimic it. (This makes sense, too, given that Facebook owns Instagram.)

With Instagram following Facebook’s successful model for promoted posts, you can target specific audience demographics to make your audience as narrow or as broad as you like (or you can just use Instagram’s suggestions). You can also add a call to action so you can convert more leads. You can even determine how long the post will be promoted (in other words, how long you’ll be paying for clicks).

Instagram’s insights are also modeled after Facebook’s, making it easier for small business owners to understand and act upon the information provided. By seeing where the majority of your audience members are located, when they’re most active on Instagram during the day and week, and what kinds of posts they best respond to, you can develop better ways to target your content, whether you’re paying or not.

Overall, Instagram’s new business tools show a lot of promise; Prospect Genius reviews them with cautious optimism. If they do turn out to be as similar to Facebook’s business tools as they appear, then local business owners would be wise to use them. Find a way to share photos and graphics regularly on Instagram and use the tools to track your performance. If you’re feeling bold, try your hand at promoting a post or two.

However, be aware that it’s only worth paying to promote a post if it’s already a high-quality, attention-grabbing image. If your line of work doesn’t lend itself to these types of images, then you’ll have to get creative (or else don’t promote them). Photos of team members, recent work, and before/after comparisons are all great ideas to get you started. Ultimately, though, you’ll have to decide if you’re getting enough new leads to justify the amount of time you’re spending trying to snap the perfect picture.

But as we wrote last year:

Even if it doesn’t directly produce leads for your business, Instagram will supplement your online advertising efforts by broadening your audience locally. Plus, as Google’s algorithm gives increasing weight to social signals, it can only help your company to participate on social media as much as possible.

So even if you don’t take advantage of all of Instagram’s new business tools, you should still try to maintain a presence on Instagram, if possible. It can only help.

Next time on “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll discuss the pros and cons of call tracking as a component of online marketing campaigns. Stay tuned!

Prospect Genius Reviews: Pixlr, a Free Image Editing Tool

Most people have heard of Photoshop, but probably a fraction of those people have heard of Pixlr. A free alternative to Photoshop, Pixlr is an effective image editor that should be in every small business owner’s marketing toolkit. In this edition of “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll explain why.

First, let’s establish the importance of images in the context of online advertising. When it comes to the appearance of your website, social media profiles, and online directory listings, high-quality photos are a must. They tell a clearer story about your company, boost your credibility with potential customers, and even make your site more appealing to search engine bots. They don’t have to be professionally shot, but they need to be bright, focused, and compelling. You can read more about the necessity of photos in our blog post, “Quality Photos = More Phone Calls!”

However, if you’re a die-hard DIYer and handle your own website and web presence, then you may be at a slight disadvantage in this regard. Unless you’ve invested in a professional-grade camera for your company’s online photos, you’re probably relying on your smartphone or point-and-shoot digital camera to take pictures. Unfortunately, these devices can be hit or miss in terms of resolution, brightness, and focus.

But just because you don’t have professional camera equipment, that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of professional-grade photos. Pixlr makes this possible.

A free app you can use in your web browser or download to your desktop, Pixlr makes editing images super easy—even for people who have little-to-no experience with image editing. It performs the same basic functions as more advanced tools like Photoshop, minus the bells and whistles. For a small business owner who just wants to enhance the overall quality of their online images, Pixlr is more than enough.

Pranav Dixit of Gizmodo puts it perfectly:

If you’re a heavy Photoshop user, you won’t be able to jump ship; Pixlr’s aimed more at the person who just needs low-level tools… If you’re someone who just needs to crop, resize, and throw the occasional overlay on there, it’s one of the best free alternatives.

As Dixit mentions, when editing an image on Pixlr, you can make all of the usual adjustments like cropping, rotating, resizing, brightening, and red-eye correcting. However, you can also make countless, more advanced alterations, too. These include filters, borders, textural overlays, color splashes, and text. So whether you want to make a photo of your staff pop off the page or you want to create a captivating infographic to share on social media, Pixlr can help make that happen. For free.

The “free” aspect is what seals the deal for us. Prospect Genius reviews Pixlr so favorably because it’s a budget-friendly way to get around a hurdle that trips up countless small businesses. With the help of Pixlr, you can make your website and overall web presence look so much more professional. Heck, even small Internet marketing companies could take advantage of it to keep their overhead low!

Next time on “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll take a look at Instagram’s new business tools.

Prospect Genius Reviews: DrumUp for Social Media Management

Social media is seen as a taxing, time-consuming chore by many small business owners. They know a social media presence is crucial in appealing to today’s consumer, but they simply don’t have the time or resources to do it. Enter: DrumUp. DrumUp is a new social media management tool, marketed toward small businesses that find themselves floundering when it comes to social media upkeep. You might be thinking, “Aren’t there already a bunch of social media management tools out there?” You aren’t wrong. So what makes DrumUp so special? And how helpful is it actually for small businesses? That’s exactly what you’ll discover in this edition of “Prospect Genius Reviews…”

social media smartphone apps

Given how vital it is to have a continuous presence on social media, it makes sense that there would be several platforms and tools to help businesses manage it all. Popular ones include Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and Buffer. They help businesses connect with their audiences at all times by enabling them to manage multiple profiles from a single platform, schedule posts in advance, and track their posts’ engagement rates. If your business has a lot of content to share, these platforms make sharing much more efficient.

However, what do you do if you’re a small business without much of your own content to share? You can write your own brief status updates, but this doesn’t always engage your audience or start a conversation. Ideally, you would balance it out by sharing articles, pictures, videos, and other content relevant to what you do and what your audience wants to see. Realistically, though, this requires spending a big chunk of time searching for good, quality content to share. Most small business owners simply don’t have the spare time to do this, nor do they have the budget to hire a social media marketer to do it for them.

This is where DrumUp distinguishes itself from the pack. It solves two problems at once. Not only does it enable scheduling and management for multiple accounts all from one location, but it also finds the content businesses want to share with their audiences in the first place. In this way, DrumUp is an all-in-one platform for discovering and sharing content. And it saves So. Much. Time.

How does it work?

When you make an account on DrumUp, you add all of the different social media profiles you wish to manage. Then, it prompts you to choose the specific keywords you’d like your content to focus on. (Note: You can use different sets of keywords for different accounts, which comes in handy if you’re managing accounts for more than one entity.) These keywords should target the interests of your audience. Inputting these keywords enables DrumUp’s natural language processing (NLP) technology to work its magic and curate recent, relevant content from all across the web. The more specific your keywords, the more targeted your content will be.

DrumUp presents this curated content as a customized feed tailored to your company’s interests. Here, you can scroll through the content and, whenever an article strikes you as particularly interesting or relevant to your audience, you simply click a button right underneath the article to share it. You have two options: one-click scheduling, which will automatically select a time for the article to post, or manually scheduling the post yourself.

A neat feature of DrumUp’s one-click scheduling is that the platform won’t automatically stack multiple posts on top of each other (as we feared it might). Instead, when we tried it*, it scheduled the first post 30 minutes into the future, and the second one for the following morning at 9:15am. This spacing makes your content sharing look natural and prevents your followers from feeling like they’re being spammed. By using this one-click feature, you could spend less than 15 minutes selecting articles and have two to three days’ worth of posts. In other words, your social media work is pretty much done for you. 

However, a potential downside of the one-click scheduling option is that you don’t get to add your own captions or commentary on whatever you’re sharing. You can only do this when you manually schedule the post. At the same time, though, manually scheduling a post only takes an additional minute or two, so small business owners shouldn’t see this as a substantial roadblock.

Another potential downside is the absence of any analytics. For the data obsessed, you may flinch at the idea of not being able to track the performance of each post (the way you can with those other, more popular platforms). However, if you’re going from zero social media presence to using DrumUp on a consistent basis, then you’re already making significant strides. So, again, this may not be a huge issue for many small business owners who are just looking to improve their overall presence.

All in all, Prospect Genius reviews DrumUp as just shy of a godsend for small businesses with limited resources. While there are some technical limitations, we believe the pros far outweigh the cons. As long as you choose specific, relevant keywords, DrumUp will deliver high-quality content straight to your feed, and you can share that content with a single click of your mouse. After the initial setup, the amount of time it will save you is incredible. Don’t be surprised if we start using it ourselves!

Next time on “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll check out Pixlr, a free, online image-editing tool.

*For the record, the “Prospect Genius Reviews…” team only tested out DrumUp’s free plan. The free plan allows a maximum of two accounts and three posts per day, and it does not allow image uploading. There are four additional plans that you can upgrade to; they range from $19 per month to >$199.