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      How to Warm Up Your Website This Winter: 9 Hot Marketing Ideas


      Hard truth: If you don’t keep trying out new marketing angles for your website and business, you run the risk of losing your audience’s attention. That’s why it’s a smart idea to always be brainstorming fresh ideas. And at no time is this more relevant than at the beginning of the year.

      Every season brings new marketing opportunities along with it. By paying attention to the latest trends, you can find plenty of ways to bring in more traffic to your website. That way, you’ll start the new year with your best foot forward and avoid a winter lull in conversions.

      In this article, we’ll go over nine marketing ideas to help you revitalize your website for the new year. We’ll talk about why each one works and how to go about implementing it. Let’s get right to it!

      1. Hold a Product or Service Giveaway

      The easiest way to get people’s attention is to give them something for free. That holds true both in the physical world and online. The only difference is that giving away digital products or services can be a lot easier and cheaper.

      One very common (but effective) approach is to give away a free e-book in exchange for visitors’ emails.

      A free e-book offer on Salesforce.

      This is an excellent strategy because it doesn’t cost you anything to distribute an e-book as many times as you want. On top of that, you can easily automate the giveaway process using a modern email marketing platform.

      However, it may not always be feasible for you to put together an e-book, depending on what your website’s niche is. For example, if you run an online store, it might make more sense to give away products instead.

      In that scenario, you can lower the expense involved by holding a giveaway for a limited number of users. This lets you drum up enthusiasm, without having to give out a lot of free items.

      An example of a website giveaway.

      Regardless of what type of website you’re running, giveaways are a great way to get more sign-ups or to encourage users to share your pages. Here’s a quick breakdown of the process involved:

      1. Come up with a product (digital or physical) that you can give away.
      2. Determine the logistics of distributing the product.
      3. Put a time limit on the promotion so there’s a sense of urgency to drive conversions.

      In our experience, you can even get amazing results with e-book giveaways. This brings us to the next technique.

      2. Compile Your Content Into an E-book

      As we mentioned before, e-books are a fantastic way to drum up interest and conversions for your website. However, writing a book (even a short one) is never easy. It takes time, patience, knowledge, and at least some talent to create a product people will want to read.

      The good news is that if you run a website with a lot of published content — such as a blog — you might already have a book on your hands. If you’ve written a lot of WordPress tutorials, for example, you could compile them into one e-book divided into chapters, to create an ultimate resource.

      A WordPress e-book guide.

      With this type of e-book ready to go, you can launch new marketing initiatives, such as:

      • Publishing about the new resource on all your social media pages.
      • Holding a giveaway for new email sign-ups, as we covered in the last section.
      • Publishing the book to digital channels, such as Amazon, and including links back to your site.

      In fact, nothing is stopping you from doing all of the above, since we’re talking about a digital product. With that in mind, take a look and see if you can repurpose some of your existing content into an e-book on a particular subject. While you’re at it, you might even add some new content as well, to increase the e-book’s value for your long-time readers.

      3. Target Seasonal Keywords Within Your Content

      As the new year gets started, with it comes the perfect opportunity to publish targeted content. Just to give you an idea, here’s what comes up if you look for “best smartphones” using Google at the beginning of the year.

      A Google search for “best smartphones”.

      As you can see, all the top results are time-based. This is the time of year when people are looking for the best products and content from the past year, and the most exciting newcomers for the upcoming year.

      Therefore, this is the perfect chance to publish a roundup of the best smartphones for 2019 or whatever fits your specific niche. Of course, the rest of the year also comes with plenty of opportunities for this kind of content. Here are some quick examples:

      • The best new backpacks for going back to school
      • Top 10 flip-flops to welcome the summer
      • 8 heated toilet seats to stay warm during the winter

      Feel free to steal one of these ideas, and if you can make it work, kudos to you! In any case, you can apply the same formula to any season of the year, and even to special events in your area.

      4. Ask Visitors to Donate to a Charity (Or Do It Yourself)

      These days, it’s become common for people to donate to charities or individuals online. That’s the entire concept behind sites such as GoFundMe and GlobalGiving. If you want to earn some karma points while also getting more eyes on your website, one great way to do so is by raising money for charity.

      DreamHost partnered with Charity:Water to raise money in 2017.

      Usually, you’ll do this by picking out a specific charity to support — something that’s relevant to your niche and audience. Then you reach out to your site’s visitors, your email list, and so on, asking them to donate money and explaining why it’s worth their time.

      Along with simply being a good thing to do, this kind of initiative has the potential to spread and raise awareness, as people are more likely to share it on social media. That, in turn, can bring new visitors to your website (and improve the effectiveness of the charity drive)

      Just remember that whatever approach you decide to take with your donation drive, make sure to include social sharing icons. That way, visitors will be able to share your post or the donation page with just a couple of clicks.

      5. Offer Special Deals for the New Year

      The holiday season is packed with special offers and discounts. However, there’s no reason you can’t keep the party going in the new year, so to speak. In fact, many people will appreciate special deals more once the holidays are over, and they can focus on getting ready for the new year.

      On top of that, ‘new year deals’ are perfect if you run a store and need to get rid of extra stock from the holiday rush.

      A new year’s offer at a chicken restaurant.

      This same approach can apply to many other types of sites. If you sell services online, for example, you might see a lull in business around the new year.  However, you can counteract that effect by offering a discount to bring in new business.

      If you want to take things a step further, you can even offer discounts for referrals. This approach not only keeps your existing users happy, but it can also help you market your business to new clients.

      6. Retarget Your Ads

      Targeted ads can be relatively expensive. However, if you sell products or services online, they can also be highly effective at driving conversions. These days, you can even ‘retarget’ people who have visited your website but didn’t convert, so you get a second shot at convincing them.

      If you run ads on Facebook, for example, you can use the Facebook pixel to target users who visited your website but didn’t add items to their shopping cart or failed to go through with a purchase.

      A shopping cart with a camera.

      That’s just one type of retargeting, however. You might also focus on cross-checking users who have signed up to your email list, and sending ads to them through social media.

      This may sound invasive, but as long as your ads are tasteful, retargeting enables you to market your website to people you already know are interested. That means all you have to do is persuade them to follow their instincts and give you a chance.

      7. Create Videos to Accompany Your Content

      Not all people like to consume content in the same way. You might be more partial to written posts, for example, whereas others prefer to watch YouTube videos, listen to podcasts, and so on.

      This means that if you focus your website on a single type of content, you could be losing out on a much broader potential audience. To avoid that scenario, you can create complementary content in a different format — in this case, video.

      Creating video content from scratch isn’t a walk in the park, of course. However, there are some simpler approaches you can take, such as:

      • Creating video versions of existing posts, either by recording yourself or using stock graphics
      • Developing video summaries of some of your latest or most popular content
      • Doing video interviews that might not translate well as regular articles

      No matter how you do it, putting together high-quality videos for your website does require some work and budget. However, the upside is that you can post the finished videos both to your site and to third-party platforms. If you add them to YouTube, for example, and include links back to your website, you’ll be opening up a whole new marketing channel.

      8. Consider Creating a Podcast

      If you’re not interested in creating videos to market your content, there are other mediums you can dip your toes into. Podcasts, for example, have never been as popular as they are right now.

      Millions of people listen to podcasts weekly and most of them follow several. If you’re up to creating your own podcast and committing to releasing new episodes periodically, then you can tap into a huge potential source of traffic.

      There are several upsides to going with the podcast approach instead of video, such as:

      • There’s a lower barrier to entry since you only need basic recording equipment.
      • Podcast listeners are used to long-form content, so you can do more in-depth takes.
      • You can launch your podcast on multiple third-party platforms, such as Spotify.

      To be fair, creating a podcast isn’t as easy as just picking up a microphone and talking your listeners’ ears off. If you want to sound professional, you’ll probably need to work out a script in advance for each episode. Plus, you may need to invest in better recording equipment than just a headset, if you want to maintain a high level of quality.

      9. Talk About Hot Topics in Your Industry

      One of the most effective ways to market your website to a broader audience is to become a go-to source for news within your niche. Let’s say, for example, that you like to blog about WordPress. If that’s the case, you’ll know that writing about the new Gutenberg editor was a great way to attract traffic during the past year:

      A Google search for Gutenberg.

      Trends change, of course, and what’s a hot topic right now might not be relevant in a couple of months. This means that if you want to stay relevant, you always need to be on the lookout for new stories and content that will interest your audience.

      To do this, you’ll want to keep up-to-date with the latest news in your site’s niche. That means following competitors’ sites, subscribing to journals, keeping an eye on feeds, checking up on social media profiles, and so on. The more up-to-date you are with the latest happenings, the more marketing opportunities you’ll be likely to spot.

      Buh-Bye, Winter Blues

      The new year always brings change with it, and that should apply to your website as well. In other words, this is the perfect time to try out some fresh marketing initiatives. That way, you’ll have an easier time keeping old visitors engaged and bringing in new ones at a faster rate.

      Will you be making any changes to your website over the next few months? Tell us what you have planned on Facebook and Twitter!





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      Make Your Website Merry and Bright with These 10 Holiday Marketing Ideas


      The bright and cheery season is finally here!

      String up the twinkling lights, bust out your ugliest sweater, and get to work decking out your website.

      via GIPHY

      Wait?

      Work during the holidays?!

      Yeah, I do sound like the Grinch right now. But getting festive for Festivus (and all the other major end-of-year holidays) can actually give your website more chances to unwrap extra visitors.

      If your cup of ideas isn’t running over, we’ve got you covered. Our gift to you? Ten great ways to freshen up your website for the holidays. Batteries not included.

      Before You Get Started

      Before you delve too deep in creating new holiday campaigns, take the time to look at the results of your holiday promotions from last year. Hopefully, you already did this when you were prepping your website for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But if not, let’s refresh!

      Let Your Goals Guide

      First, take a moment to reflect. What are your company goals? And what do you need to get out of the holiday shopping season: more sales, leads, or subscribers? Every action you take, including fun holiday marketing campaigns, should drive toward those goals.

      If the campaign you’ve got in mind won’t help you achieve your goals, put that idea on the naughty list.

      Review Last Year

      Which promotions registered with customers last December? Which ones fell flat? Before you put fingers to keyboard, take a look at last year’s results and build from there.

      Plan Out Sales in Advance

      Run the numbers to find out what deals you can afford to offer during the holidays. Then use this information to help you choose which holidays ideas to implement on your website.

      Analyze Your Channels

      You need to know how you’re going to spread the word about your holiday campaigns and promotions. So ask yourself: Do you have an email subscriber list? How strong is your social media presence? Is one platform stronger than the others? Have you ever used PPC?

      Scout Out the Competition

      What have your competitors done for the holidays that you could tweak for your specific audience? Make a list. You can even look to big brands for ideas (lots of inspiration coming your way).

      Got all that? Okay, on to the ideas!

      10 Holiday Ideas to Brighten Up Your Website

      1. Make Sure Your Website is Ready for the Season

      First things first, let’s get technical to make sure your website is geared up and ready for the season.

      You can do this by checking with your hosting provider to plan for any surges in traffic. If you need to upgrade for more resources, do it before the holidays hit. That way, you won’t run into issues when all those visitors come knocking on your website’s door to get your holiday deals.

      Next, make sure your payment gateway can handle more transactions. You may also want to consider upgrading your services to accept more forms of payments and double check your security features. The gifts of convenience and security are the type of holiday cheer your customers will appreciate.

      Need a baller payment gateway for your website? Here are 10 can’t-miss options.

      Finally, optimize to reduce your site’s load times. I could give you a mile-long checklist for this, but you’re busy — I get it. Instead, try these ten speedy-site tips, and then test your site’s performance with Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

      Now, you’re ready to roll!

      2. Dress Your Website up for the Holidays

      Your customers are used to your website’s regular look, and that’s great — for most of the year. When the holidays roll around, though, consider giving your site a little extra sparkle.

      Take caffeine juggernaut Starbucks.

      Everyone is used to the company’s white-and-green siren, but come November 1, Starbucks’ cups get a little more festive.

      Obviously, your website isn’t a paper cup. So when it comes to zhuzhing up your homepage, a lot of jingle can go all the way. Let’s look at a brand that does holiday cheer well: Bath and Body Works.

      As soon as visitors hit the website, they are greeted with twinkling snowflakes and a giant, festive banner image. Even their promotion code is cheery: SNOWFALL.

      One word of warning (and good, old-fashioned marketing advice): know your audience.

      When you opt to make your branding more holiday-themed, pay attention to how your customers receive it. If you’re worried, solicit customer feedback, run some A/B tests, or hold a focus group.

      You don’t want to catch any flack — like Starbucks often does — for being too much this way, not enough that way.

      3. Use Your Email Marketing List

      Of course, it’s easy to get caught up in making sure your website is perfectly festive. However, it’s vital to remember that many customers won’t see it — unless you email them with a link and a good reason to return to your homepage.

      Long-time readers and first-time commenters alike will probably remember that we’ve gone in-depth before on why website owners need to get serious about email marketing.

      It’s the single-most-effective marketing tactic for awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention. You want a slice of that pie!

      WordPress users! Learn how to build your own email subscriber list directly on the platform.

      Most of all remember that your subscribers opted into your email list for a reason: they want to hear from you! Don’t forget to wish them well this holiday season and share your good news.

      After all, who doesn’t love a killer sale like this offer from Legacybox?

      4. Make ‘Em Laugh

      Sometimes the best way to get your website visitors in the holiday spirit is to make them laugh.

      Of course, how you do this is largely up to you and what works for your brand.

      JibJab allows visitors to personalize hilarious videos and send them to friends and family. Each year, the site offers a series of customizable holiday cards that are bound to make their customers laugh, share, and repeat.

      Kmart is another brand that has used humor to increase sales during the holidays.

      While the Jingle Joes might not “resonate” with everyone, the use of humor is a good way to stand out during a very competitive shopping season.

      Lastly, don’t be afraid to go dark. Like real dark.

      For a lot of people, getting together with family for the holidays isn’t a friggin’ Hallmark movie. HotelTonight took all those bad feels and translated them into this dark-comedy dream.

      You don’t have to be a hotel booking website to pull this off either. Get creative and think about your specific target audience. The world is your air mattress — erm — oyster.

      5. Put Together a Holiday Gift Package

      No matter what products or services you offer, you can group them together during the holiday season and offer a holiday combo on your website.

      Dollar Shave Club nails it each year. 

      As you can see, the shave kit is exactly like the ones they offer every other month of the year.

      So what’s changed?

      Only the context! The Elf on the Shelf signals holiday hijinks are afoot without the brand having to do any repackaging of their product.

      This time of year, people like to see holiday promotions. Even if you are selling the same old thing, dress up the way you promote to match the season.

      6. Drum Up Interest

      Almost everyone has a hard time waiting for the holidays (even if you can’t wait for them to be over, amirite, Scrooge?). But as a website owner, you can use all that anticipation to drive hype for your business.

      Take H&M. The brand created a short trailer to tease its 2017 holiday collaboration with Nicki Minaj.

      I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of all things H&M and Nicki Minaj, so even before the final campaign dropped, I knew I’d be checking out H&M’s latest gear. #MarketingSuccess

      Of course, if you don’t have the budget to hire a mega-watt celebrity to headline your holiday campaigns (pssst, have you heard of micro-influencers?), then you can always build hype the old-fashioned way: with a countdown!

      Ellen famously does the “12 Days of Giveaways,” and it’s hugely successful. Hitch your sleigh to that idea by doing 12 days of promotions, deals, even blog content — anything that will resonate with your customers.

      There is nothing naughty about leaning into the sense of urgency and excitement that comes with the holidays.

      7. Promote Your Expertise

      If there’s one thing for certain about the holiday season, it’s this: people gain weight. Yeah, your pants aren’t lying; holiday weight gain is real. And so is the motivation to lose the weight come January 1.

      Don’t worry I’m going somewhere with this.

      If you are a brand that holds a special level of expertise on a holiday-related topic, then the time is now to jump in and start sharing.

      For example, if you are a doctor, wellness coach, purveyor of health supplements, or self-styled weight-loss guru, then focus your content on how people can stay healthy during the holidays.

      Need an example? It’s like that one time we talked about tech-themed horror movies for Halloween. Look for a niche that you have expertise in and find a way to tie it to the season.

      Content win!

      8. Get Real With Your Followers

      Not like Drunk Uncle real. I mean genuine. The holidays are a great time to share what your brand is really about.

      Take Samsung for example.

      Their “Unwrap the Feels” video captures the spirit of the holidays by showing a collection of darling families gathering together. It’s so darn charming, that by the end, you might get a bit misty-eyed — and want to purchase some of Samsung’s magical family-bringing-together products.

      You don’t have to pull heartstrings to win hearts, though.

      If you are getting jolly around the office, let your customers in on the fun. Chances are they’ll be interested in the team that keeps their favorite products on the market.

      When you hold an office party or volunteer for a charity project, make sure you share the real, unfiltered you with your customers.

      9. Give Back to Customers

      When it comes right down to it, the holidays are about giving back. There is no better time to focus a little less on the bottom line and a little more on making the world a better place. For instance, you could make a donation to a charitable organization or sponsor a company-wide day of service.

      DYK? DreamHost is currently matching up to $10,000 for donations to Charity:Water.

      Looking for a viral way to spread joy to your customers? Host a giveaway or contest on social media.

      Last year DreamHost gave back to our customers with “The Dreamiest Website of the Year Awards.” Customers were able to submit their websites for a bevy of awards. The winners got swag, cash, and bragging rights. It was a fun way to thank the people who keep us in business.

      10. Welcome Visitors to the New Year

      After the hype has died down, take some time to ramp up your content production. Why? Because once the merriment is over, your customers will be thinking about the next big thing: the new year!

      Come January, DreamHost customers are looking for help building a brand new website to kickstart their resolutions, whether they’re starting a blog or a business. Think about what your customers will want to do next year and start creating content to help them do just that.

      The new year is a fresh start for everyone. Stay on top of your content strategy by preparing in December for a big rollout of fresh ideas in January.

      Give your website a home for the holidays. Sign up for DreamHost today!

      Stick a Bow on It, You’re Done

      There you go! We hope you’ll enjoy (and use!) these 10 gift-wrapped holiday ideas to connect with your customers during the holiday season.

      And we want you to get in on this too!

      Tell us: how have you decked out your website in years gone by? And what are you trying for the first time this December? Spread the good cheer with us on Facebook or Twitter.





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