Today, over one-third of all websites use WordPress for infrastructure and content management, making it the world’s most popular site building platform.
Perhaps the biggest reason for this level of market penetration is WordPress’s versatility. It can become almost anything you want it to be, a type of blank canvas for the digital work of art that is your branded online presence.
It doesn’t matter what design element, user interface module or back end tool you can think of. Thanks to the vibrant community of WordPress developers (it’s open source, after all), there’s probably an existing plugin that can do what you have in mind. And if there isn’t, you can have one built for you. Because the platform has emerged as the industry standard, WordPress’s plugin developer ecosystem is expansive and growing. It allows millions of developers worldwide to create exceptional applications and tools that integrate into WordPress sites to give them added functionality.
For businesses, this means that your website can become one of your most powerful engines of growth – whether you are on a mission to grow exponentially (viral growth), retain customers (sticky growth), or bring in customers through advertising (paid growth). You can use the WordPress framework, along with whatever set of third-party components you like, to make your site work for you in ways that were impossible even just a few years ago.
However, with great choice comes great paralysis. It can be hard to know what WordPress plugins are best for the specifics of your situation. At the time of writing, the WordPress plugin marketplace is home to some 45,312 options, and that’s before we count the thousands of standalone SaaS tools that integrate with WordPress sites from beyond the confines of your host servers.
To get you started in the right direction, here are four tools that can help turn your WordPress website into a powerful growth engine.
1. Drive Traffic Back to Your Site Using Start A Fire
If your brand is active online, chances are you share content from other brands as well as your own. This is true when it comes to outbound links in your blog content, and it’s true when it comes to your social media channels.
Curating great third-party content that’s relevant to your audience is one of the most effective ways you can position your brand as a leader in your niche, because it helps to cultivate the impression that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of your industry. And when you’re a trusted go-to hub of valuable information, people will want to keep coming back for more of what you’re serving up.
The disadvantage of using curated third-party content, though, is that you’re essentially asking your audience to click out of your owned web property to go to someone else’s, which means they may never return to your site. Have you ever thought about how much of your potential audience you’re essentially sending away?
Now imagine being able to drive those clicks to others’ sites back to your own content, because with Start A Fire, you can do just that.
Start A Fire is a tool that allows you to add your own floating recommended links box, called a “badge,” to any URL you share. This means that whenever someone clicks on a link on your WordPress blog to a third party site, they’ll have a reminder to come back your site when they’re finished.
And Start A Fire-enabled short links can be shared anywhere, so you can even drive your social media traffic back your site after they’ve clicked on a link in your feed. Click on the link in the tweet below to see it in action.
BotPages: Explore the world's largest open bot directory https://t.co/zlqzPINuS6
— Matthew Barby (@matthewbarby) June 24, 2016
If you click the link, you’ll be taken to this page which includes this widget:
In addition to the WordPress plugin, marketers can integrate Start a Fire with their social media dashboards and email marketing platforms, so that every link shared has your custom badge on it.
Start A Fire is a free tool, with premium features available via custom pricing for agency and enterprise accounts.
2. Convert with Content Using Content Upgrades Pro
You could probably start a whole new business with the amount of time you spend researching, curating, creating and promoting content. Yet our content isn’t working nearly as hard for us as it could at converting viewers into subscribers and customers.
Content Upgrades Pro is a plugin that promises to use your content to “turn up to 59.2% of your visitors into email subscribers.” How do they do that? This clever plugin allows you to offer a “content upgrade” to your WordPress blog posts – a piece of extra content that you offer within your article, but people can’t get access to it unless they opt-in with their email address. It’s analogous to gating resources behind a lead capture form, except that with content upgrades, the audience is all the more likely to convert, because they’re already enjoying a taste of the premium content on offer.
This way it works is simple. You simply add a bonus “Fancy Box” to your WordPress content using the plugin, which triggers a popup requesting the visitor’s email address. Once they enter and click through to access the bonus content, the plugin redirects them to a download page or sends them an email. At the end of the day, they get more of the content they crave, and you get another qualified subscriber. It’s a win-win.
So what qualifies for content upgrades? Anything you want! It could be an expanded version of the article your audience is reading, with more details or extra points, or maybe a PDF version for easy reference in the future. Or better yet, a totally separate but equally relevant offer, such as a free checklist, e-book or guide on the topic, which you can offer on multiple articles at once. The choice is yours.
Content Upgrades Pro is available for $57 as a one-time licensing fee for a single website, or $77 for up to five sites.
3. Give Your Site Superpowers with SumoMe
Alright, so including SumoMe on this list was a bit of an underhanded move on my part, because even though it’s one package, it comes with more than a dozen extremely powerful add-on tools that add great functionality to your site.
From its heat maps, which tell you where your website visitors are clicking (or not), to its free exit intent popup email list builder, which promises to increase your email signups by 20% daily, SumoMe provides a well-curated group of useful apps, all aimed at growing your website traffic and increasing conversions.
Seeing a grid of this many tools may be a little overwhelming for someone just starting to explore the world of WordPress plugins. But don’t worry – you don’t have to use all the tools they offer. Just the ones you need, and you can add more as the need arises. Additionally, SumoMe walks you through the setup process for each, and provides great tips and tricks for optimization.
And if you ever need some inspiration or ideas on how to make use of the tools for your website, they provide a great showcase library of how some of their top customers are using these tools and the results they get.
SumoMe is available in a robust “free forever” version, with paid plans ranging from $20 to $119, depending on your features and traffic volume.
4. Make Your Numbers Count with Kissmetrics
There’s no way we could talk about growth-enabling tools and plugins and leave Kissmetrics off the list. The company has spent years crafting the ultimate analytics platform to help WordPress users (and non-WordPress sites) with all levels of expertise to dig deep into their metrics, to learn what’s happening with their sites, and to discover ways to optimize the onsite experience.
What makes Kissmetrics different from the standard analytics platforms available is its emphasis on the end consumer. Instead of just focusing on metrics like pageviews and bounce rates, which is the realm of Google Analytics, Kissmetrics tracks individual users to help you understand and segment your audience so you can create better content and onsite experiences for success.
Any business that aims to convert customers through their WordPress site and wants to know who their visitors are, where they’re coming from and how to get more of them to convert, should be using Kissmetrics.
Along with the standalone tool, Kissmetrics offers a standard plugin for WordPress, which allows you to track data and view the results directly on the back-end of your site.
And to top it all off, the Kissmetrics Blog that you’re reading is one of the best sources of high-quality, consistent, relevant content about the latest in analytics, online marketing and website development. So you can always be sure that you have an ally that’s just as invested in getting the best, most current information to help you succeed.
Kissmetrics pricing starts at $120 per month.
A Time for Growth
Once they’re set up, the tools listed here are all more or less capable of working behind the scenes. Once you let them get to work, they’ll require very little maintenance, but they’ll provide massive results. You can’t ask for much more.
While I’ve only provided four of the most beneficial tools and plugins that I’m familiar with, remember that there are thousands of options to choose from that can help develop your site into the growth machine it has the potential to become, and even more being developed daily. Keep looking out for that next great app that will help you even further in your growth journey.
About the Author: Nadav is a veteran online marketer and the Founder & CEO of InboundJunction, an Israel-based content marketing company. Nadav helps well-known brands in boosting their online visibility through PR, SEO and Social Media.