If you’re running a small business, you are probably also running a website or blog (if you’re not yet, read this post as to whether you should and this post on how to start a business blog in seven days).
And if you’re running a website or blog, chances are you may be running in on a WordPress platform. Although not the only option, WordPress - which is used by more than 18 percent of the world's top 10 million websites - holds the lion’s share of the market.
While WordPress is clearly the little black dress of the website platform (free, endlessly customizable and highly functional), plugins are the accessories that take your blog or website to a whole new level.
Here are five WordPress plugins that you may not be using but that you should check out right now. At least, you should if you care about little things like growing your list, converting more leads and making money by selling things you’ve already created.
Trust me, I’m rarely ever wrong about things like this.*
*I am occasionally wrong in situations involving sports, the long-term weather forecast and the ultimate winner of American Idol. But not WordPress plugins.
Calling SumoMe a plugin is a little like calling King Kong a gorilla. It’s true – but it doesn’t quite communicate the entire picture. SumoMe offers an array of tools to grow your site, like list building through intelligent pop-ups, scroll-ups and a smart bar that integrate with your email-marketing provider of choice. Use heat maps to see where (or if) your visitors are clicking, and content analytics to see what portion of your content your audience actually consumes. Additional tools optimize your site for sharing of posts, images, even snippets of text.
Use the tool for free – or invest in pro versions of many of the options to supercharge your efforts.
There has been plenty written about the importance of blog titles. Your title or headline is what gets your post clicked, read and shared. Your blog title can be either bridge or barrier to the consumption of your content and make or break its potential for social sharing.
That’s all well and good – but how do you know what works?
The Title Experiments Free plugin is a simple one – using A/B testing gives you a peek into the collective brain of your readers. Given a choice between two (or five) different versions of a title, which one do your readers prefer? Discover the percentage of clicks each version of your title gets in real time – poorly performing titles will be shown less while your winners are displayed more often. Return visitors always see what they saw the first time – couldn’t be simpler!
Pro version with increased functionality available for $29.99/year
3. Inbound Now
Remember what I said about SumoMe? The folks at Inbound Now are also overachievers – bundling free plugins for creating calls to action, landing pages, lead management and tracking into a package that will help make your WordPress site a part of your marketing automation machine.
Use the plugins to create landing pages or CTAs that you can insert into your posts or sidebar, monitor conversion rates, run A/B split testing and customize templates. Track your visitor activity, see where leads are coming into your site and what content they are consuming, capture leads and send all the collected emails to your email-marketing provider.
Premium options, integrations and pre-made paid templates available beginning at $10.00
Does the editorial planning process sometimes seem a bit unwieldy? Are you managing you have multiple authors and guest contributors? Are you still trying to make sense of it all with sticky notes on a printed calendar or via an external calendar?
If so, this simple editorial calendar may just be a dream come true.
The native WordPress dashboard does not make it easy to manage the scheduling or changing of posts. With the Editorial Calendar plugin installed you’ll have a clear view of all scheduled and posted content in a simple calendar view. A quick drag and drop allows you to reorder posts, manage drafts, easily see the status of posts – even with multiple authors, and edit right from the calendar.
There are many major players in the WordPress ecommerce arena, but most focus on the selling of physical products. Easy Digital Downloads allows you to turn your digital creations – from PDFs to ebooks and more – into profit. Instead of creating a robust platform with countless features, this plugin focuses on doing one thing simply and easily.
The system allows users to purchase and download multiple items at once, use promotional codes, include multiple price options for each product and sync with major payment gateways. Customers can track purchases and re-download their files. You can view payment and purchase history and even projected earnings, and the mobile app allows you to track your products, sales and earnings from your phone.
*Premium add-on extensions and integrations available.
Now tell us – what WordPress plugins can you and your team not live without? We’d love to include your responses (and a link to your site in action) in a future post. Let us know on Twitter.