Wednesday, June 30, 2021

How to Create an Org Chart

Organizational charts—better known as org charts—are a visual representation of a company’s internal structure.

Sometimes it’s challenging for people within an organization to understand who they should be reporting to or who they should be communicating with about critical updates or deliverables.

Org charts solve these types of problems by showcasing the complete hierarchy of different teams, departments, and the business as a whole.

In addition to the role and hierarchical position of each employee, it’s common for org charts to contain things like phone numbers, email addresses, office locations, and even employee photos.

So when someone in the organization looks up a colleague on the org chart, contacting that person is a breeze.

The Easy Parts of Creating an Org Chart

The easiest part of creating an org chart is getting started. Instead of starting with a blank canvas, Word document, or spreadsheet, modern software makes it easy for anyone to create these from scratch.

In fact, lots of the best HR software options on the market have built-in tools for org charts. Since these solutions already contain your employee data, there’s no need to manually input information.

Once they are created, it’s easy to share and distribute org charts with the appropriate parties within the business.

Some digital org charts are interactive, meaning more details about the employee won’t be displayed on the chart itself until you click the name or position. This helps de-clutter the page, so it’s easier to read and digest.

The Difficult Parts of Creating an Org Chart

The biggest challenge with org charts is that they can quickly become outdated. This is especially true for large companies with a high employee turnover rate.

It’s easier to update a digital chart compared to one that’s been printed and handed out in person. But if someone isn’t actively monitoring and updating the chart to reflect new hires, promotions, and terminations, the chart quickly loses its effectiveness.

Also, org charts only show formal relationships and lines of authority. But those don’t necessarily reflect informal relationships or management style, which means there may well be unofficial hierarchies and connections within the org that the chart won’t identify.

Finally, sometimes the org charts for a large organization can be a bit overwhelming. This is especially true if the authority that comes with certain job titles hasn’t been previously established. The person creating the org chart could potentially create problems by placing a role on the wrong hierarchical line of the chart.

Step 1 – Determine What Type of Org Chart to Create

There are several different kinds of org charts to consider. Each has its pros and cons. We’ll take a closer look at some of the most common options below so you can decide which one works best for your organization.

Hierarchical Structure Org Chart

This type of org chart starts at the top and works its way down. They typically begin with the CEO at the top and the rest of the C-suite directly below.

Positions in the org chart are connected by either a horizontal or vertical line. A vertical line between two roles indicates that the person on top directly supervises the person below. If there’s a horizontal line between two roles, those people are equal but may work within different departments.

For example, the CEO could have a vertical line to the CFO and CTO. But there would be a horizontal line between the CFO and CTO, as these positions have equal authority.

Most businesses use a hierarchical org chart because it’s the easiest to follow and understand. It works for organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Functional Business Org Chart

A functional business org chart is similar to a hierarchical org chart in the sense that the formatting and concepts are the same. But functional charts put a stronger emphasis on different departments, which is useful for larger businesses.

These charts start by displaying the head of each department followed by who reports to who.

The structure may vary slightly for each department as well. For example, a marketing department might have several lines of authority between the department head and employees at the bottom of the chart. But an IT project team might just have a single project manager at the top with all developers, designers, QA reps displayed with equal footing below.

Matrix Org Chart

Matrix org charts work well for employees who have multiple supervisors. These charts are set up in a way for cross-functional relationships between teams and departments.

Similar to hierarchical and functional org charts, relationships between different roles will be represented by solid vertical or horizontal lines. But matrix org charts commonly include dotted lines, used to display a less direct but still important connection between two roles.

Companies that want to promote employee innovation and creativity tend to use matrix org charts. That’s because the hierarchy is less prominent, and the departments don’t feel so segregated.

The biggest advantage of a matrix org chart is that it encourages communication between different departments that can ultimately build relationships and expose employees to different projects or initiatives.

Division Org Charts

A division org chart organizes the structure of a business around specific business activities. This could include a market, region, or product group.

Multinational enterprises and big companies tend to use these types of org charts if they have different product or service lines.

In this situation, each division operates separately, and the org chart reflects that connection.

For example, one division could be for frozen foods in North America. Another division could be beverages in Europe. Within each division, there will be different roles and departments related to sales, production, accounting, R&D, advertising, customer service, etc.

Project Org Charts

As the name implies, project org charts coordinate the roles of a specific activity. In many cases, the project will include individuals from different departments or areas of an organization that may not normally work together.

Rather than creating confusing lines or arrows on an already clean org chart, it makes sense to create a completely new chart for the specific project.

This helps everyone understand the roles and relationships between different team members. So there’s no confusion on who is in charge and who has the authority to give orders related to the project.

In many cases, project org charts are temporary and only valid for the duration of a predefined project.

Step 2 – Get Org Chart Software

Next, find software that supports the type of org chat you’ve decided to create in the first step.

Rather than using a standalone solution for org charts, I strongly recommend using HR software with built-in tools for this process. HR software already has all of your employee information, and it limits the need to bounce back and forth between multiple platforms.

It’s more efficient than using spreadsheets, and it will be easier to update the chart as roles and employees change over time.

Freshteam is our top recommendation here. It’s an all-in-one solution for HR, recruiting, employee information, and more.

The software is trusted by over 5,000+ businesses across a wide range of industries.

Freshteam simplifies the way you update org charts. The software comes with an intelligent employee database. So whenever you add a new employee or update someone’s role, Freshteam automatically adds them to the org chart in the right position.

If you’re on the fence about using a new tool, Freshteam makes it really easy to get started. There’s a free forever plan, called Sprout, that supports organizations with up to 50 employees. Even this entry-level free plan comes with the ability to create an organizational chart.

Paid plans start at $50 per month, and you can try them for free with a 21-day trial. It takes less than a minute to sign up, and you can immediately start creating your org chart.

While the interface and exact buttons will look slightly different if you’re using another tool, we’ll continue using Freshteam for the remainder of this tutorial. The core steps remain the same, regardless of the solution you’re using.

Step 3 – Customize Your Org Chart

Freshteam will automatically populate your org chart with your own information when you sign up. So if you’re the HR manager, you’ll be placed accordingly in the chart. If you’re the CEO, you’ll be placed at the top.

Then it’s just a matter of adding new employees, roles, and other information that will improve the chart. Here’s how you do it:

Select Org Chart From The Employees Menu

Navigate to the left side of your Freshteam dashboard. The fourth icon from the top is your Employees menu.

Hover the mouse over this icon and select Org Chart from the dropdown list.

Edit the Default Org Chart

An org chart doesn’t exist with a single person. So in addition to your name and role, Freshteam adds a few sample positions to the org chart as well to get you started.

Remove those positions, or simply edit the names so they match. Here’s a sample org chart that includes the CEO, Director of Sales, and two sales reps:

By default, the person’s contact information and additional details aren’t displayed unless you click on them. The number below the contact card represents how many subordinates report directly to that position.

In the example above with Stuart Errol, he has two sales reps that report to him.

The sales reps positioned directly below Stuart don’t have any numbers below their contact card—meaning they aren’t in charge of any other employees.

To make changes to someone’s information, start by clicking their name on the chart. From here, you’ll automatically be directed to the employee’s profile.

Click Edit Profile at the top right corner of the screen to edit this information.

Changes made here will automatically be reflected in the company org chart.

Step 4 – Add All Employees to the Org Chart

This will potentially be the most time-consuming step of the process. It depends on what information you already have on hand.

If you currently have a file containing employee names, positions, and contact info, then you can upload that employee data to your Freshteam employee directory. Alternatively, you’ll need to add each new employee manually.

I’ll show you how to do each below:

Add Using an Import of Existing Employee Data

Navigate to the Employee menu on the left side of your Freshteam dashboard (just like we did at the beginning of step #3). Then select Employee Directory from the list of options.

Next, click Import at the top right of the screen.

From here, you can take employee data from a CSV file, G Suite directory, or Office 365 directory and bring it into Freshteam. The software will use that info to create the org chart automatically.

Your existing data probably won’t include everything offered in Freshteam. So you may need to verify the data’s accuracy after the import. You can always make changes and add information from here as well.

Add New Employees Manually

If you don’t already have an employee database to import into Freshteam, that’s fine. But depending on the size of your organization, this process might take a while.

For startups and small businesses, you might find this process easy enough that it’s not worth importing data anyway. Then you can ensure everything is accurate initially and limit the number of edits you need to do later on.

Head back to your org chart and click Add New at the top right corner. Then select Employee from the dropdown menu.

From here, you can add information like:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Employee ID
  • Department
  • Job Title
  • Office Location
  • Primary Team
  • Shift
  • Start Date

In terms of the org chart features, you’ll want to focus on the Reporting Information section on the page.

Once you add a reporting manager, the employee will be positioned directly below that person on the org chart.

If you refer back to the sample org chart we’ve been using thus far, you’ll remember that the two sales reps both report to Stuart Errol, the Director of Sales.

So if you click on the profile of either sales rep, you’ll see Stuart listed as the reporting manager.

You’ll also have the ability to add additional managers and HR partners associated with each employee. This only applies to larger organizations, as smaller companies would usually leave these sections blank.

Step 5 – Plan For The Future

As previously mentioned, org charts are useless if they’re inaccurate. So it’s important for you to understand how they’ll change over time.

Freshteam already simplifies this process by automatically updating the chart every time you add, remove, or edit an employee.

But you can customize the chart even further from the Settings menu.

This part of the screen lets you manage locations, departments, sub-departments, teams, and more. You can even change employee roles and permissions within Freshteam to control who has access to different parts of the software, including the org chart.

Just understand that creating an org chart isn’t a one-and-done task. There will always be moving parts that change as your organization scales and evolves over time.

That’s why it’s so important to use reliable HR software that can grow with these changes.

from Quick Sprout

How to Hire Employees

Are you looking to hire some employees for your company? This can be an exciting time, but that excitement doesn’t come without some challenges attached to it.

Employees can make or break your company. And sometimes, finding the right employees for your company is not as easy as simply posting a job and conducting interviews.

You can take some essential steps in the hiring process to avoid hiring bad eggs that bring your company down. They ensure that you have employees who will do their job well and that you follow all the legal aspects of hiring new employees to avoid fees, fines, and more.

To help you navigate the process of hiring employees, we have created this how-to guide to get you hiring employees successfully and with as little stress as possible.

The Easy Parts of Hiring Employees

Don’t let all the thoughts of hiring employees scare you–it’s not all difficult! To get things off on the right foot, let’s chat about some aspects of hiring employees that you can check off your to-do list without too much work.

Choose the right job title.

When posting jobs for your company on the website, LinkedIn, Indeed, Monster, or any other job board, it is crucial you choose a job title that accurately reflects the job and is also highly clickable.

The clickability of the job title helps to put your position high in search results and helps to attract candidates that are qualified and strong.

You want to steer clear of fun buzzwords such as “wizard,” “rockstar,” or “ninja” since those aren’t things that potential candidates typically type into the search bar. They also don’t show what the job is.

Stick to a job title that has 80 characters or less, as those are the ones that tend to get the most clicks.

Find the best candidates.

This seems like one of the most daunting parts of the process, and you’re right–it can be. However, that is typically the case when you don’t have the right tools to help you get the best candidates possible.

It is no secret that the traditional way of finding candidates for a job in your company means weeding through stacks of applications that are honestly a waste of your time.

However, by implementing recruiting software into your hiring process, you simplify finding top-notch candidates. One of the top recruiting software options is Breezy HR.

Breezy HR is an end-to-end recruiting solution that helps you find top talent in a way that is efficient and easy for you. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Run a background check.

Fast-forward to when you’ve identified a great candidate for a position and made an offer.

The next step is running a background check. This step in the process is vital as it keeps your company and employees safe. If you have customers, this is important for their safety, too.

A background check is the best way to verify that they indeed are who they say they are. And to run a background check, the applicant must authorize it.

Before diving into background checks, learn about your state’s specific laws surrounding them. There are some complicated legal requirements and restrictions on these types of checks, so be sure you know what is and isn’t allowed in the state your company is in.

Some states only allow you to pull information about certain criminal history, while others require that the position meets specific requirements to even pull an applicant’s credit history.

To ensure you comply with all the requirements and laws, you may want to use a third-party agency to do the background checks for you. This makes the process much easier and stress-free for you. We at QuickSprout have identified the top five background check companies.

The Difficult Parts of Hiring Employees

As much as we’d like to only focus on the positives, that won’t help you find success in your hiring process. So, we’ve got to cover some of the struggles that people run into when hiring employees, too.

Here are the most common roadblocks in hiring.

Long lead times.

The hiring process is typically not a quick one. From putting up the job posting to reviewing resumes, from interviewing to offers and everything in between, the time between the first and last steps of the process can be quite long.

That is a challenge because most top candidates find jobs within 10 days, far longer than the average time it takes to hire.

For this reason, some people suggest that you don’t wait to hire until you have an open position. Some companies are always on the lookout for strong candidates, and if they find someone who is the right fit, they hire them and then sort the rest out later.

You can also mitigate some of the lead time by forecasting your hiring needs annually instead of monthly or quarterly. Suppose you’re able to forecast further ahead. In that case, you’ll be able to snap up great candidates for the positions you know are coming instead of waiting until you need someone immediately and starting the hiring process.

Managing multiple job postings.

Hiring managers or other professionals typically use more than just one website to list open positions. While it is important to get your job postings on as many relevant job boards as possible, that isn’t always as easy of a task as it sounds.

The vast majority of hiring professionals struggle with using multiple different channels to place job openings, as that requires a lot of balancing. Not only are job boards a place they need to be posting on, but social media is as well. In fact, professional social networks like LinkedIn are the top sources of great hires. However, not all hiring professionals use these channels because they feel overwhelmed.

Great recruiting software like Breezy HR helps manage multiple job boards and postings and keeps track of everything in one place.

You’re not hiring for culture fit.

Though the most crucial part of hiring employees is making sure they can do their job, that is not the only thing you want to consider. Company culture is something that often gets pushed to the wayside but is integral to the success of your hire and the company.

If your hire doesn’t feel like he or she fits into the company, then chances are good he or she won’t stay very long. Or, if they do, they will cause waves for other employees.

Pay attention to the beliefs, behaviors, and personalities of the people you are looking to hire and see if they align with your company’s values and the workplace environment. And yes, this also applies to those people who are working remotely. Company culture still exists when you aren’t physically in the same office together.

You can help alleviate this issue by conducting behavioral interviews and background checks that may help any red flag come to light.

Step 1: Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

If you haven’t already, the first step is to register your business with federal and state authorities.

It is a requirement that every business that hires employees has an employer identification number which is used for tax purposes. The best way to explain an EIN is that it is the equivalent of a social security number for companies.

Check Your State’s Requirements

How you get an EIN varies from state to state, so this is something you have to do via your state’s labor department website.

Some states may require mailing in an application, while other states may be able to give you an EIN in just a few minutes.

Step 2: Prepare for Recruiting

Now that the registration and EIN are out of the way, you can get started on recruiting. Starting this step off right means that you have a higher chance of the recruiting process going smoothly and your company getting some strong hires out of it.

Use Recruiting Software

The top tool to help you with recruiting from start to finish is recruiting software. Breezy HR helps you attract the best candidates and one we rated very highly in our research. Whether you are recruiting in-house or via an agency, good software is key.

Breezy HR offers all kinds of features, including:

  • Reporting and analytics
  • Candidate management
  • Automation of candidate emails and SMS messages
  • Scheduling of interviews
  • Job advertisement
  • Sourcing candidates
  • Career portal
  • Team collaboration

One of our favorite parts about Breezy HR is that it solves one of the problems we discussed earlier: managing job postings. With this recruiting software, you can advertise your company’s jobs on over 50 different job boards with just one click. That means less time individually posting and more time focusing on the strong candidates.

You can also build Employee Referral Sites quickly and easily, which helps you get candidates that currently employees can vouch for. According to a LinkedIn study, employee referrals are four times more likely to be hired, and 45% of employees sourced from employee referrals stay at the company for at least four years.

Breezy HR offers a few different pricing options that each open up additional features for you to use.

  • Bootstrap. This version is entirely free and gives you all the basics you need to hire for one position.
  • Startup. $143 per month. This version is for a hiring experience that is “enhanced.”
  • Growth. $249 per month. This version helps those with a growing team.
  • Business. $399 per month. This version allows for the most hiring control as well as the most flexibility.

Define the Role

Before you start doing any hiring, you need to figure out precisely what you need.

What are the critical tasks that you need help with? Where is your company lacking? How can someone improve things?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you can move onto the level of responsibility this person has. Is it an entry-level position? Or something more senior?

With those questions answered, you can then decide what the pay is for the open position. This takes into account the work, the level of responsibility, as well as the budget.

Lastly, think about the experience, education, and skills that you want from someone for this position.

Write A Thorough Job Description

With all of the above information, sit down and write the job description. The more well-thought-out and clear your job description, the higher chances of success you have of hiring the right person.

Remember to keep the job title clear and accurate. You should definitely list out the job responsibilities and requirements and remember to talk about your company and why a candidate would want to work there. Do you offer perks or competitive benefits and compensation? Mention it in the description to attract good candidates.

While you are trying to find a strong employee, candidates are looking for a great new employer. And the job description may be their first introduction to your organization.

Step 3: Find Your Candidates

With recruiting software in place, you can start the process of finding the best fit for your open positions. You want to get your job out there and attract the most qualified candidates. Here are three ways to find top candidates for open positions.

Employee Referrals

Employee referrals are one of the top ways to find strong candidates. Referrals save you time because someone that already works for you vouches for them. They also keep you from having to sort through a pile of unqualified resumes to find a couple of solid options (hopefully).

Job Boards

Posting on multiple job boards helps to get the word out about your company openings. And Breezy HR comes in strong with the help in this step. Recruiting best practices say you should post your job on multiple job boards to get a broader reach.

Social Media

LinkedIn is one of the top recruiting tools used today, so don’t forget to look for candidates there. You can essentially see their resume before you even decide whether to spend time pursuing them for any positions.

If you choose to upgrade to LinkedIn Recruiter, you’ll be able to anonymously view people’s profile without it alerting them. It also lets you search across much wider audiences instead of only within three degrees of your connections. You can also utilize InMail to message candidates you are not connected to.

Step 4: Conduct Interviews

Now that you’ve received resumes and sifted through all of the unqualified candidates, you hopefully came out with a few potential hires. Next comes the interview process.

Here is an example of how to approach an interview.

  • Introduce yourself and the company
  • Let them know what to expect during the interview
  • Review the job responsibilities and requirements
  • Start with general questions about them
  • Review their resume and dive deeper into relevant experience
  • Ask some consistent questions for all candidates
  • Allow candidates to ask questions
  • Share a timeline of your hiring plan

When the interviews are over, make sure to thank the candidates and let them know when to expect a follow up. Even if you do not hire the person, they still deserve a personal rejection.

Step 5: Make an Offer

After the interviewing process, you’ll have your list narrowed down to the top candidate, a.k.a, your new hire.

Now it’s time to offer them a job! This is an exciting time for both parties.

Call First

Before sending out the official offer letter, schedule a time to talk and invite them to join your team. On this call, you can discuss the different terms of the offer, which includes:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Start date

Send Written Offer Letter

If the call goes well and the candidate accepts the verbal offer, the next step is sending an official offer letter that reiterates all the things you discussed on the phone. Ensure the offer letter includes all compensation and benefits information, plus anything you need from them for the next steps.

The next steps might be to send back a signed offer letter, submit references or background check information, take a drug test, or any other pre-onboarding things.

Step 6: Take Care of the Legal Stuff

To comply with federal and state labor laws, you must meet a number of different legal requirements.

For Your First Hire Ever

If you have never hired an employee before, you need to do the following:

  • Get an EIN (done in step one of this guide)
  • Register with your state’s labor department
  • Complete paperwork for federal tax withholdings
  • Get workers’ compensation insurance if required in your state

For A New Hire

If you already have employees but have hired a new one, you need to do the following:

  • Run a background check
  • Have the new hire fill out an I-9
  • Have the new hire sign W-4
  • Report the new hire to your state’s reporting agency within 20 days of the hire

from Quick Sprout

The 3 Essential Ingredients For Long-Term Happy Clients

The 3 Essential Ingredients For Long-Term Happy Clients written by Sara Nay read more at Duct Tape Marketing


Agency Spark Podcast with David Gersh

The Agency Spark Podcast, hosted by Sara Nay, is a collection of interviews from thought leaders in the marketing consultancy and agency space. Each episode is designed to spark ideas you can put into practice for your agency today. Check out the new Spark Lab Consulting website here!

In this episode of the Agency Spark Podcast, Sara interviews David Gersh. Owner of Outreach Local Marketing for 9 yrs previous to starting his digital marketing agency. He has built and sold 3 other businesses over the past 25 years. His main focus in those businesses was sales & marketing.

Questions Sara asks David Gersh:

  • Tell me a little about your story and how you’ve launched and sold three businesses prior to where you’re at today?
  • Do you have a niche or do you work with a range of local businesses?
  • What’s been the most successful marketing tactic for growing your agency?
  • How have you made the combination of direct mail and cold calling successful?
  • How do you keep getting long retainer clients while other agency’s struggle?
  • Is there an area or tactic that you see a lot of local businesses wasting their marketing budget on?

Learn more about David Gersh:

Like this show? Please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts here!


This episode of the Agency Spark Podcast is brought to you by Unstack, a no-code marketing platform and ecosystem.  Start building a site today for free by visiting their website

Stop waiting on developers and leveraging multiple tools to manage your marketing stack.  With Unstack, you get a no-code website builder, landing page builder, A/B testing, forms, analytics, contact insights, payments, memberships, blog, and more all in one platform.  Start building a site today for free by visiting this link and receive 20% off for six months when you sign up.


from Duct Tape Marketing

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Beginners Guide to Form 944

Every small business that withholds income and payroll taxes from their employees‘ paychecks is obligated to report that withholding to the government.

Typically, you would use IRS Form 941 or the Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return to file this information. But if your business is smaller and has a limited tax liability, you may be eligible to file a different IRS tax form: Form 944, also known as the Employer’s Annual Federal Tax Return.

Eligible employers can use Form 944 to file and pay federal income tax withheld from employees, along with Social Security and Medicare payments owed by employers and employees, only once a year instead of every quarter.

What is Form 944?

Form 944 is an IRS form that reports taxes, including state income tax (where applicable) and FICA taxes for Social Security and Medicare, that you withdraw from your employees’ paychecks.

The primary purpose of creating this form was for smaller businesses that have fewer employees and hence, less tax liability. Think of this form as an annual tax return. You can be eligible to file IRS Form 944 if your employment tax liability is $1000 or less–in other words, if you expect to pay $4000 or less in total employee wages for the year.

Moreover, Form 944 also requires information concerning the Additional Medicare Tax. While an employer isn’t required to pay this additional tax, it’s withheld from high-income employees and must be paid, along with the other employment taxes.

The Basics of Form 944

Now that you have a basic understanding of Form 944, let’s dive deeper to understand what needs to be done to fill the form accurately.

Determining Employer Eligibility

Form 944 eligibility cannot be self-assumed. You can’t just say you want to use it and have the IRS sign off.

First and foremost, you need a confirmation of your eligibility in writing by the IRS. It’s possible for the IRS to notify you that your business is either eligible or required to complete Form 944. Once you get the go-ahead, you cannot file Form 941 in its place unless you’ve requested and received the IRS’s permission to do so. That said, you may continue to submit Form 941 every quarter even if you’re eligible for Form 944.

If you haven’t received an IRS notification but believe your employment tax liability makes you eligible, you can contact the IRS by phone or email them to request this change. Be sure you make this request within the first few months of the year. If the IRS does change your file requirements, you should be receiving written notification from them soon enough.

Additionally, you can request to be eligible to complete IRS Form 944 if you’re a new employer. When filing Form SS-4 (this is the application you must fill to get an employer identification number or EIN), you can mention you think you’ll meet the Form 944 filing requirements.

The IRS will inform you about your employment tax filing requirements—whether you’ll file for IRS 944 or 941—when you’re issued your EIN.

Gathering All Payroll Data—And Doing It Accurately

You must collect all information you need ahead of time before you start filing Form 944.

As you now know, this form relates to payroll taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the federal income taxes that you’ve withheld from your employees’ paychecks. Make sure you have access to this information, along with the total compensation you’ve given to your employees throughout the year.

Even better if you use reliable accounting or payroll software for this purpose. You see, these systems make it easier to access the necessary financial data quickly. Plus, some solutions also generate a report specifically detailing all of the information you need for Form 944.

Knowing the Filing Right Dates

Your request to file Form 944 must be made in writing between January 1 and March 15 of the current year. Alternatively, you can also call 800-829-4933 between January 1 and April 1 of the current year.

As for filing, everything must be done by January 31 of the year after being reported. That said, you have until February 10 of the following year to file Form 944 if you made all the deposits on time and in full.

The amount of your tax liability determines the deadline by which you must pay your payroll taxes.

  • Employment taxes for your business included on Form 944 can be payable when you file Form 944 if your total tax liability is less than $2500 for the year.
  • If your total tax liability is $2500 or more for the year but less than $2005 for the quarter, you can pay deposits by the last day of the month after the end of the quarter.
  • You can pay the fourth quarter’s tax liability with Form 944 if your fourth-quarter tax liability is less than $2500.
  • If your total tax liability is over $2500 for a quarter, you must pay monthly or semi-weekly deposits depending on your schedule.

Note: Make sure you pay your payroll tax deposits using the IRS EFTPS system.

Social Security and Medicare Wages Calculation

You must calculate the appropriate Social Security wages and tips, Medicare wages and tips, and wages and tips subject to additional Medicare withholding in form 944.

Once you do this, multiply these expenses with the specific amounts mentioned on the form. These amounts reflect the percentage of wages and tips that get deducted for Social Security and Medicare tax.

You can make adjustments for sick pay or life insurance as specified on the IRS Form 944 instructions document, as well as any tax credit for performing or participating in research to get your final employment tax liability. Keep in mind you’ll have to report any deposits you’ve already made for the year too.

Calculating all wages and tips is more nuanced. I’ve only given you a gist of things to keep this guide brief.

Payroll taxes are complicated, and if you end up making any mistake, you’ll find yourself being penalized or fined. I highly recommend enlisting the help of a tax professional or outsourcing your payroll tasks if you face any difficulty when completing IRS Form 944.

5 Tools to Improve Filing Form 944

You can’t file Form 944 accurately if you don’t have the correct payroll information. For this purpose, you need a reliable accounting and payroll solution—preferably that can fine-tune all the needed data—that gives you uninterrupted access to all compensation-related information. Below is a list of the five best payroll software solutions.


OnPay is a highly reliable and secure payroll service that comes packed with features and benefits. From unlimited monthly cycles to automated tax filing and payment to flexible periods and schedules, this tool gives you all—and more.

It offers specialized payroll solutions for businesses operating in specific industries with specific requirements. For example, if you’re running a restaurant, OnPay can easily handle the unique taxes and wage reporting systems. Plus, you also get HR benefits that can be incredibly useful for mixed workforces comprising W2 employees and independent contractors.

QuickBooks Payroll

Although more renowned for its accounting solutions, QuickBooks Payroll also has an excellent online payroll solution. While choosing this software is a given if you already use QuickBooks Accounting, you can give it a shot even if you don’t.

The software automates local, state, and federal tax calculation and payment every pay cycle. It has an Auto Payroll feature that can considerably reduce the time you take to run weekly payroll. However, one of its biggest USPs, in my opinion, is its tax penalty protection. QuickBooks will pay up to $25,000 if you get a tax penalty because of an error in your payroll.

Wave Payroll

Wave is another popular accounting software that offers a wide range of free accounting services. The payroll solution isn’t free, but it’s still one of the cheapest options on the market.

Since this is a cloud-based payroll service, you can log in to your account via the Wave website from any device. It also offers tax support services for 14 states in the United States. If you reside in any one of these states, Wave will pay and file your state and federal taxes when you run payroll. The employee portal functionality, where you can invite employees to create and manage their own accounts, is another plus.


Patriot is a flexible payroll software solution that lets you choose between full-service payroll and a more affordable DIY solution where you’re responsible for filing your own taxes.

You’re assured of unlimited payroll runs using any device, various payroll frequencies, and customizable hours, money, and deductions for both plans. Patriot also has an employee portal that employees can use to keep track of pay stubs, pay history, time off balances, and electronic W-2 information. Moreover, there’s no restriction on how you pay your employees. It allows payments via direct deposit or manual checks both.


No payroll solution list can be complete without mentioning Gusto.

In addition to providing an unparalleled user experience, Gusto can calculate and file your taxes with little to no supervision from you. All your local, state, and federal taxes are automatically paid to the right government office for every payroll. Even the onboarding is super easy and straightforward customized according to the employer type.

5 Tricks for Filling and Filing Form 944 Correctly

Here are some of the best tips to help you minimize errors and frustrations when filing Form 944. Let’s take a look.

Hire a Reliable Accountant

A good accountant should do more than simply preparing financial statements and doing your taxes. They should be willing to work with you all year round to keep track of income and spending. They must regularly monitor your gross and net profit and make sure you don’t have a cash flow problem.

Start working with your accountant from day one—not just during the tax season. After all, good accounting is key for accurate data, which is key for filing Form 944 and avoiding expensive penalties and fines.

Store Your Paperwork All Year Long

It’s crucial to keep all tax-related paperwork throughout the year. You want to save every receipt related to your employees’ compensation. You see, having all your paperwork handy and organized will make the process a lot easier.

The IRS recommends keeping records for at least three years.

Keep Up With All Your Deadlines

When dealing with Form 944, not only do you need to pay the federal income taxes, state income tax taxes, and FICA taxes on time but also request the IRS to get their written approval to file this particular form instead of Form 941.

As you may realize, deadlines are vital here. If you don’t get the go-ahead from the IRS, you won’t have any other option other than filing Form 941.

Separate Your Business Expenses From Your Personal Expenses

The IRS may start looking at your personal accounts because of commingled money if they find your personal expenses mixed with your business expenses while auditing.

Precisely why you should make a point to get a separate bank account and credit card for your business, and only business expenses—in this case, paying your employees—through them.

Manage All Payroll-Related Activities Properly

If you face any difficulty filing Form 944, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a reputable company for assistance.

Many business owners hire a lesser-known and unreliable payroll service to save money. Don’t be one of them. These company owners end up on the hook as they realize far too late the service wasn’t remitting any payroll taxes for the company. The IRS will check every year to check whether you’ve paid your tax liability, so you really don’t want to mess this up.

What to Do Next

If you’re eligible for filing Form 944, you have to start collecting all the crucial information related to your employees’ compensation ASAP to avoid making any mistakes. Remember, any error can result in you getting heavily fined.

Fortunately, having the right software tools to keep track of onboarding, payroll, and time and attendance will make the process less intimidating and time-consuming. You can check out these Quick Sprout guides to set yourself up for success.

from Quick Sprout

How to Create Content That Drives Sales

There is a big misconception that content marketing doesn’t drive sales. But if it didn’t work well, none of my companies would exist.

Content marketing is an absolute necessity for brand survival and I’ve grown each of my businesses through content marketing.

If you want to generate hordes of sustainable, long-term traffic without spending too much money, content marketing is the way to go.

At its core, it’s very simple:

Create valuable content for your target audience, and give it to them.

You’re on the right track if you are currently creating and distributing content. But for those of you not seeing results from these marketing campaigns, it can be frustrating.

If you’re putting so much time and effort into this, why aren’t you seeing results? What’s the issue?

I see this problem a lot when I’m consulting businesses. They don’t have a clearly defined content strategy. If this sounds like you, it’s important you read this post carefully.

It’s great that you are continuing to publish new content. But this isn’t effective if your sales aren’t increasing.

Sure, content marketing can be used for many different things. Primarily, businesses use content marketing to:

  • generate leads
  • acquire new customers
  • increase brand awareness
  • establish credibility
  • engage with an audience

All of these are great and critical for success. However, you need to learn how to create content that directly drives sales.

That’s why you got into business in the first place, right? You wanted to make money.

I want to show you what types of content you should be producing in order to generate strong sales from the rest of your content marketing efforts.

Some of these might overlap with the content you’re already producing to generate traffic, but some will be new.

If you’re starting to see a solid level of website traffic but aren’t sure how to turn those visitors into customers, this post should help you a lot. 

Let’s get started.

1. Understand how the conversion funnel works

Before you can create highly relevant content, it’s important for you to make sure you’ve got a firm grasp on the conversion funnel.

You’ll see different variations of this funnel depending on the marketing website or expert. It can also look slightly different depending on the industry and business model.

But for the most part, the conversion funnel can be broken down into three stages:

image6 3

The top of the funnel occurs when a prospective customer becomes aware of your company. They’re conducting research or looking for an opinion. Basically, they need an answer to something, and they are seeking insight.

Once a consumer knows your brand exists, they enter the middle stage of the conversion funnel. This is the evaluation phase.

They are still conducting research, but now they are taking it one step further. Consumers are trying to decide whether your product or service fits well their specific needs.

Finally, the consumer reaches the bottom of the funnel when they enter the purchasing or conversion stage.

This is the area of the conversion funnel you need to focus on the most when it comes to creating highly relevant content.

The bottom of the funnel is your chance to explain to your customers why your product and service is the best for them. Show them how you differ from the competition.

Educate the consumer. Explain what it will be like for them if they become a customer.

Marketing campaigns that entice customers can include demonstrations, free consultations, free trials, estimates, quotes, coupons, and pricing. Basically, it’s anything to give them an incentive to buy.

Once you understand the conversion funnel and, more specifically, the bottom of the funnel, it will be much easier for you to adjust your content strategy accordingly to drive sales.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a B2C or B2B company, you’ll still need to evaluate your funnel.

image1 3

Yes, you’ll notice some slight differences between the business models.

But ultimately, the funnel can still be broken down into the three stages I just discussed.

2. Create a customer journey map

Journey maps are a great resource because they take you through the buying process even further than the conversion funnel.

Your journey map will focus on events that take place after the purchase, instead of just before. While awareness and consideration will still be part of your journey map, you’ll also focus on your customer retention strategy.

Analyze how the customer behaves after their initial purchase. This is very important when it comes to driving sales.

That’s because you won’t always focus all your efforts on ways to acquire new customers.

In fact, you shouldn’t be. Yes, of course, new customers are great. But it’s less expensive and more effective to target your current customers. A journey map can help you accomplish this.

You’ll put yourself in the minds of your customers. Once you’re able to do this effectively, you can adjust your content strategy accordingly based on their points of view.

3. Track leads and conversions

Where are your leads coming from?

If you don’t know the answer to this question, it’s a big problem. This is one of the reasons why your content isn’t relevant and driving sales.

Knowing how customers discovered you can help you understand why they made a purchase. Based on this information, you can create content that’s more specific to their needs.

Since the majority of the customer journey is done on the Internet, it’s easy for you to track their behavior.

image7 2

The best way to track your leads is with UTM parameters.

Not sure what a UTM parameter is? Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple. In fact, I’m sure you’ve seen this before.

If you’ve ever clicked on a link from an advertisement, the URL will be long and somewhat complex looking even if you’re just on a company homepage.

That’s a UTM parameter. It’s a way for websites to determine where a lead came from. For example, did it come from Facebook, Twitter, Google Ads, a social influencer, or email marketing campaign?

You’ll have different tags for each distribution platform to know precisely where the lead came from.

Furthermore, you’ll have tags for each post within a specific platform. For example, knowing it came from Facebook is great. But where on Facebook? Which specific post?

You’ll be able to figure this out with your UTM parameters. It’s easy to set these up with Google Analytics.

image3 3

Just navigate to the “Demos & Tools” menu and select “Campaign URL Builder” from the list of options.

Another reason why UTM parameters are important is because they can help you accurately measure your ROI.

You know how much you’re spending on each campaign, so you’ll be able to see direct sales results to measure how successful everything was.

Just make sure you accurately fill out the entire form so you don’t get confused:

image4 3

After you fill out the required fields, this tool will automatically generate a custom URL you can use.

I could go on and on about this topic. But I want to stay focused on creating content that drives sales.

4. Promote diverse ads on social media

Now it’s time to take this process one step further. I’ve explained what you need to know about UTM parameters, but now you’ve got to put them to the test.

Social media is a great place to do this because you’ve got lots of options.

You can use paid promotions to target specific audiences. You just need to come up with ads that use different types of content.

Start with a hypothesis. What types of content do you think will have the highest conversions?

This will vary based on your industry, business model, target market, and other factors. But you need to make sure each campaign is different.

Don’t get me wrong. You don’t want to waste money on irrelevant ads. But it’s important that you rule out content that doesn’t work early on. Remember, we’re focusing on relevancy here.

Then you’ll use the UTM parameters that you’ve previously set up to track how effective different ads were.

Now you can appropriately adjust your content strategy based on which ads had the highest success rates and directly drove sales.

5. Develop a customer persona

Now that you know which content speaks to your audience the most, you can develop a customer persona to improve your conversion rates.

This will help you learn more about the people you’re selling to. It’s similar to what we did earlier with the journey map, but a customer persona offers more detail.

Again, based on your findings, you’ll continue to adjust your content strategy.

Look at the factors associated with whom you’re selling to:

image5 3

It’s much more specific to your broader target market.

That’s why you won’t just develop one customer persona—you’ll be building several of these.

Each one depends on many different factors. But ultimately, customer personas will help you develop relevant content strategy.

6. Take advantage of different formats of content

Don’t just stick with one type of content. Mix it up.

Some different strategies to consider include:

  • blogging
  • infographics
  • case studies
  • video content

This will vary depending on the platform you’re using and the audience you’re trying to target.

But based on the research you’ve conducted on your conversion funnel, customer journey map, UTM parameter tracking, and customer personas, you’ll have plenty of information for each type of content.

The best type of content is personalized. You can even use tricks such as storytelling to enhance your content. This approach will ultimately lead to more sales.

Research shows that generating traffic and leads are the top marketing obstacles businesses are struggling to overcome:

image2 2

By diversifying your content strategy, you’ll increase the chances of your content appealing to a wider audience.

That’s because it will be relevant to their wants and needs.

7. Keep up with the latest news and trends

To stay relevant, you need to keep your finger on the pulse.

Understand what’s happening locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. Keep your eye on important news.

Also, keep track of news and trends within your specific industry. Analyze your competition. Did someone else beat you to the punch?

If a competitor is having success with a strategy, you need to know about it. Find some accurate news sources. Subscribe to industry newsletters and attend events.

Whenever something major is happening that’s trending, you can use it to promote your content.

For example, do you remember the ALS ice bucket challenge craze?

If you were manufacturing buckets or selling ice, you could use that as a marketing ploy for your content strategy. Even if you were selling bathing suits, goggles, and such, you could get creative.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should try to take advantage of charities. I’m just trying to show how you can capitalize on trends and other newsworthy headlines.

Just be creative, and apply it to your content strategy.

8. Teach and make sales with webinars

I want to make this clear right away:

Just because a piece of content is geared towards helping you make sales doesn’t mean that it has to be a “salesy” piece of content.

It can still be highly educational.

The key difference, however, is that these types of content are suited better for making a sale than a general “X tips about Y” article.

I started this post with webinars because it is an incredible type of content.

Not only is it better from an education perspective (compared to most content), but when done right, it’s also better for sales—it can yield crazy numbers.

Let’s look at a few examples.

KISSmetrics has used webinars for a long time.

At one point they produced 77 webinars, which had a total of 155,386 signups.

Although only half of those who signed up actually attended the webinars (74,381), we were able to convert 16,394 of them.

That’s a 22% conversion rate (of the people attending).

Those results are pretty typical for high quality webinars.

A few other businesses, such as Adobe and BuzzSumo, have revealed the results of their webinars. Adobe reported a 19% conversion rate, and BuzzSumo gets a conversion rate of about 20%.

You might not get that high of a conversion rate right away, but it’s not improbable either.

There are few types of content that convert as highly as webinars.

I’m going to outline how to create a webinar right now.

What a typical webinar looks like: In case you’re unfamiliar with webinars, let me give you a quick rundown of how they are typically made and run.

A webinar is essentially a video conference.

The video feed comes from your screen, and only your screen. Then, your audience can join the “call” at a set time, and you can do a live presentation.

Typically, the only sound will come from your microphone, but you can have multiple people do the presentation or even unmute certain viewers if they’d like to speak.

The whole point of a webinar is to teach the audience about a specific topic. Usually, it’s how to do something.

In general, webinars range from 40 minutes to 2 hours.

Take a second to realize the power of webinars: you have most of your viewers’ undivided attention for over 40 minutes.

You can’t get that anywhere else.

Finally, most webinars focus on high level topics—strategies, not tactics.

So, while you won’t get a super detailed step-by-step breakdown of how to do one specific thing, you will get a blueprint of how to create a strategy to accomplish something much greater.

The key parts of a webinar: There are five main parts of a webinar slideshow that you’ll need to create for your webinar.

I went into much greater detail in this guide to webinars, but this outline will give you a higher level view of the whole process and clarify things.

First, you have the introduction slide(s). Something I haven’t really mentioned is that webinars can attract viewers who aren’t part of your regular audience.

So, while you’ll have some super fans on the webinar, there will also be some people to whom you should introduce yourself.

This reinforces that you’re someone who they should listen to and that it’s worthwhile to spend the next hour or so of their lives paying attention to you.

This is also the time when you re-introduce the topic.

Then, you move right into the core content, which is the meat of the presentation. It can take upwards of 80% of the total presentation time.

During this part, you walk the viewer through whatever process you’re trying to teach.



The most effective webinars are highly transparent, which is why I share a lot of personal company information with my viewers.

Transparency is especially needed when you’re addressing a high level strategic topic. With tactics, it’s obvious whether something will or will not work.

But with a strategy, viewers need real numbers and experiment results to prove to them why each part of the strategy is included.

Once you’ve spilled the beans and given everything you have to give, you need to look at some overall results that can be achieved if they put your lessons into action.


Finally, you can take a minute to make them an offer. It’s typically an exclusive offer that they can’t find on your website.


The more the offer is tied to the topic, the better your conversion rate will be.

The last component is the question period. You could do this before or after the pitch—it’s up to you. You could even do two question periods, one before and one after.


9. Get your product reviewed by influencers

One of the main reasons why your typical content won’t bring you any sales is because it doesn’t tie in with what you’re selling in any way.

For example, you might sell coffee.

And you might publish content like “The 5 mistakes you’re making when brewing coffee.”

Your readers might read the article and enjoy it. But what does learning about brewing have to do with buying your coffee? Not a whole lot.

And that’s okay—not all content needs to have a sales angle, but some content should.

The most direct type of content that sells is a product review.

But it’s also something you can’t really create yourself. If you make a new post reviewing your own product, of course your readers will assume it’s biased (because it is!).

Instead, you need to find bloggers, freelance writers, and journalists who are willing to review your product.

How to find content creators who will review your product:

To begin with, you’ll need a list of people who might be interested in reviewing your product and have an audience that contains your target audience.

For the rest of this section, let’s pretend that you’ve just released a new time management tool.

Now, you’re trying to get reviews for it, which will drive sales.

To start with, search in Google for “top (type of product)”:


Go through the results on the first page, and write down all the alternatives.

Next, we need to build a list of all potential sites and writers who might review your product.

To do this, we want to find sites that have already reviewed time management tools—specifically, those tools that you just wrote down.

One by one, you need to search for “(name of competing product) review”:


For popular products, this could bring up hundreds of reviews.

You’ll see that the top few reviews for a popular, established product are on big authority sites. In this case, they are on PC Mag and PC World, which are both huge.

It would be awesome to get a review on those sites as well. However, unless you have a well-known brand or a strong existing relationship with writers on those sites, it’s going to be difficult.

Unless you have a product that is very different from all the rest and revolutionary, I wouldn’t suggest trying to land reviews on those sites right away. You can try, but expect a lot of rejection.

Instead, I propose a more methodical and strategic approach…

How to maximize your chances of landing a successful review:

When you’re starting from scratch, it’s difficult to get a lot of attention.

You need to be able to prove that (1) your product is of high quality and (2) that your target audience likes it.

Essentially, you need social proof.

How do you get it?

You start at the bottom and work your way up.

Forget about those top few results when you search for your competitors’ reviews. Instead, dig into the 3rd page, 4th page, 5th page, and deeper results to find reviews on less authoritative sites.

Writers on these sites are sent hundreds of review requests every week, and they are much easier to convince to review your product.

Down on the 5th page for our example search, I found a Rescue Time review on an unknown blog.


They probably don’t have a ton of readers, so it’s not going to spike your sales. However, a review on a small blog can still yield a few sales, so it’s not like it’s a waste of your time in the short term.

Additionally, smaller bloggers often have a tight-knit group of subscribers. Sometimes, smaller blogs drive more sales than larger ones.

The best part about reaching out to a blogger like this is that there’s a good chance they will be happy to review your product.

I would find their email address and then send them something like this:

Subject: Content idea for (blog name)

Hi (name),

I came across your blog recently and was impressed with your (competitor’s tool) review.

So much so that I’d like to offer you a free copy of my own tool.

It’s called (product name), and it’s a lot like (competitor’s tool), except that (how is it different in a good way?).

If you’re interested in checking out the tool or have any questions, just let me know!

Thanks for your time,

Your name.

There are three things in particular about the outreach email that you need to understand:

  1. The differentiator – It makes sense to relate your product to your competitor’s so that the blogger sees why they might be interested in reviewing yours. But it’s important that you explain how your product is different and in which ways it’s better. Otherwise, why would the blogger try just another copy of a tool they already like?
  2. The free product offer – Let’s face it, the review is primarily for your benefit. You need to provide some sort of incentive. The most common incentive is a free copy or sample of whatever you’re selling.
  3. Not pushing the review too hard – Don’t make it a condition for them to post a review when you offer your free product. They know that’s what you want, and if they genuinely like the product, they will post a review.

Send out as many of these as you can to lower-tier sites.

Not all of them will agree to do a review, but you’ll be able to get at least a handful.

Next, you start to target larger sites.

If you started on the 5th page of results or lower, now you might want to try the sites on the 3rd and 4th pages.

The outreach emails should be similar, but you should also include a line near the end like:

Our product has already been reviewed on sites such as (site #1) and (site #2) and has been well received by their audiences, which is why I think your audience would also be interested in getting an in-depth look at it.

This type of paragraph introduces the social proof that you need so badly at this point.

The bigger the two sites that you include are, the more effective it will be. In addition, you’re providing reassurance that their audience will enjoy it.

Again, this will get you another handful of reviews if you contact 100-200 sites (10-20 sites for 10 competing tools).

Finally, you just repeat this whole process.

As you get reviews on better and better sites, start using their names in your outreach emails.

By the time you get to the top few results on the first page, the biggest sites, you should have some decent sites to include as social proof.

Note that this entire process can take months to complete. However, during this time, you should still drive an increasing number of sales with the initial reviews you land.

10. Design an email sales funnel

People put a lot of value and trust in emails. When they get one from someone they know, they usually give it their full attention and expect to take some sort of action. It could be just replying to the email, but it could be clicking a link and buying something as well.

There’s a bit more to it than that, but it’s one of the reasons why email marketing is by far the most effective selling channel.



If you are going to leverage content marketing, you need an email solution. Without it, you won’t see a big ROI. I’ll share the numbers below, which will help you understand why you need to sign up for an email service provider…and you don’t have to pick one that is expensive either.

We don’t spend any money to acquire emails… our only cost is for us to send out emails.

We spend a bit under $2,000 a month for our email service and we send out an email blast every time we release a blog post. We also use it to announce webinars and send out email drip sequences to users. But if you are strapped for money, you can use MailChimp, which is free.

On average, we post one to two articles a day, and we try to publish a few infographics each month.

The end result each month gets a lot of traffic from our efforts.

kissmetrics blog traffic

How to get sales through emails:

The best way to sell most products through email isn’t by sending a random email saying “buy our stuff” even if that feels like the easiest thing to do.

Email gives you the opportunity to send a series of connected pieces of content to your subscribers.

You can use these to educate your subscribers, help them understand their problems, and then finally introduce solutions (your products).

A series of emails like this is essentially a mini sales funnel:


And it’s incredibly effective.

There’s no right or wrong email funnel. You might have three emails in it, or you might have 20. It depends on the complexity of your product, the cost of it, and even how advanced your email marketing provider is.

However, there are three general types of emails that you will want to include in the following order:

  1. Educational (first 1-5 emails) – You want to send lessons to your subscribers so that they fully understand their problem. For example, if you sold high end coffee, you might want to send emails about the health benefits of high quality coffee as well as how to tell the difference between low and high quality coffee.
  2. Product introduction (1-2 emails) – Here, you want to offer a solution to their problem (not being able to find high end coffee). You don’t need to give a hard sell; just make your readers aware of your product.

image063. Product offer (last 1-5 emails) – Finally, you want to offer your limited time discounts or bonuses. This is more important if you’re selling something like a course that is only available during a certain time period.


While it’s not required, I think it’s also a great idea to add at least one email where you follow up with anyone who purchases something from you. It’s one small thing you can do to gain lifelong customers. By thinking of a sales funnel as a whole, you can combine all these emails to take your audience one step closer to a sale every email you send.

11. Use content to get access to your target audience

Blog posts aren’t the greatest places for selling products.

People reading them aren’t in a buyer’s mindset.

The same goes for many other types of content, like social media posts, YouTube videos, slideshows, and more.

The better plan is to use your content on these other channels to get attention (traffic) and then get that traffic onto an email list. Then, you can sell much more effectively through email.

Option #1 – Start with blogging: I love blogging because I’ve seen the power it can have to help just about any business. I’ve built multiple 7 figure businesses mostly through blogging.

But I rarely sell in blog posts. In fact, I can’t think of the last time I even mentioned my services in a post.

The key is that I have signup forms on my posts—any visitor can sign up for my email list.

If you haven’t already been doing that, I can help you.

I’ve written many posts on how to create blog content that gets attention and that will help you effectively convert that traffic into email subscribers::

Option #2 – Social media has one purpose: There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, selling on social media doesn’t work.

You won’t be able to tweet out a link to a sales page and get people to visit the page expecting them to be in a buyer’s mindset.

However, it is possible to send them to a blog post or a landing page where you offer a lead magnet, which will help you get them onto your email list.

That is the purpose of social media from a sales perspective (it’s good for other things as well).

Some social media sites, such as Facebook, even allow you to integrate your email list with your profile so that your followers can sign up right on the social networking site.


Otherwise, you can always just link to your content and drive your followers to a page that has some sort of an opt-in form on it:


Option #3 – Slideshows and videos: Besides your blog and a select number of social media sites, there are many places where you can find traffic that you can get onto your email list.

In fact, there are thousands.

However, two in particular are more commonly used for business, so I’ll focus on those.

Those two are Slideshare and YouTube, which focus on publishing content in slideshow and video formats respectively.

Getting a popular slideshow on Slideshare isn’t easy, but if you can achieve that, you can expose your slideshow to tens of thousands of people on the site.

Then, you can put a link to a page on your website (hopefully a landing page with a lead magnet offer) either on the last slide of the slideshow or in the description:


YouTube is similar. If you produce high quality videos consistently, you can get thousands of views on each of them.

If a video goes viral, you could get millions of views.

You drive traffic back to your site by linking to a landing page or blog post in the description of videos:


12. Focus on the types of blog content that convert

Although many types of blog content do not produce any sales, some types of content actually do.

If you’re looking to increase sales from your blog itself, start producing more of these types of content on a regular basis.

Content type #1 – tutorials: There are two main types of tutorials, both of which are great for selling.

The first type is where you explain in-depth how to use a specific product.

For example, I did this in one chapter of my advanced guide to link building when I covered how to use the tool ScrapeBox.


The key is to not only include incredible detail but also make it useful. Show readers how to actually accomplish something with the product:


In this example, I showed my readers how to find free proxies and build links with the tools.

This type of tutorial works best when you have a fairly well-known product already (most SEOs know ScrapeBox even if they haven’t used it). Because of this, this type of tutorial often lends itself to selling products as an affiliate.

The other type of tutorial involves showing your audience how to accomplish something. Then, you include your product in one of the steps of the tutorial.

A great example of this is Ann Smarty and her product MyBlogU.

She routinely writes tutorials on her own site and others and includes MyBlogU as a tool that will help the audience accomplish their goals.

For example, she wrote a post about how to write newsworthy content:


In the article, she mentions the tool as a way to accomplish a specific step in the process:


Content type #2 – product reviews: A good product review can convince just about anyone considering it to actually buy it.


However, you need to understand what a good product review is.

Most reviews suck. They’re incredibly biased, contain no actual detail of the product in use, and are obviously written just to generate sales.

A good product review is authentic and as unbiased as possible, and it’s clear that the writer has used and tested the product.

There are four main steps to creating a great product review:

  1. Pick a type of product in your niche (e.g., link-building tools)
  2. Buy the products you’re comparing (it costs more upfront but will allow you to write a credible review)
  3. Test the products (test the performance of each product in the way they are meant to be used)
  4. Quantify the results, and share them in a detailed review


Content type #3 – case studies: Finally, case studies are a great way to get new customers.

They consist of a detailed account of how a past customer used your product or service successfully.

They are best used for complex products, where it’s not clear to potential customers if the product is right for them or not.

HubSpot is a company that produces a steady stream of new case studies because they know they work:


There’s a lot that goes into writing an effective case study, which is why I wrote an entire post dedicated to showing you how to do it.


Content marketing is arguably the most effective type of marketing at your disposal today.

However, you need to make sure that you are using content not to just generate traffic but to convert that traffic into sales.

You need to make sure your content is relevant if you want to generate sales.

Figure out how to leverage different elements at the bottom of the conversion funnel. Then, create a customer journey map to give you a better understanding of the consumer’s wants.

Use UTM parameters to track their behavior and measure the success of different campaigns. Promote those ads on social media.

Once you realize which promotions had the most success, you can build customer personas to dig even deeper into the minds of your customers.

Use the resources, tools, and analytics I mentioned to identify the type of content that speaks to your customers the most. Adjust your content strategy accordingly.

Stay up to date on the most recent news and trends to stay relevant.

If you follow the tips I’ve outlined in this guide, making your content more relevant, you’ll see a significant impact on your sales numbers.

from Quick Sprout