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What Is an SSL Certificate? (& Why Your Website Needs One)

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What Is an SSL Certificate? (& Why Your Website Needs One)

Have you ever paid for a domain name and the registrar offered you a free SSL certificate with your purchase?

If the answer is “yes,” the freebie may have left you wondering what an SSL certificate is and why you need one. As you’ll soon learn, installing an SSL certificate for your website is incredibly important, especially if your site collects data from users.

This article will answer all your questions about SSL certificates, including the available types, why you need one, and how to install one on your website.

Let’s jump in.

What’s an SSL certificate?

The “SSL” in “SSL certificate” stands for “secure sockets layer.” It’s an encryption protocol that signifies that the connection between a browser and server has a higher level of security. Translation please? Here’s the plain English version:

Most internet users’ activity falls into two categories when they surf the web: asking for (and receiving) information, or sending it. When they do either of these, a back-and-forth occurs between their browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, etc.) and the server that hosts the websites they visit.

SSL certificates make this exchange safer. These small data files establish a security protocol between your browser and the servers they send data to and receive data from. 

When you visit a website and want to know if it has an SSL certificate, look to your browser’s  address bar. If you see a padlock icon before the site’s URL, then it has an SSL certificate.

Also, the site’s URL will begin with “https” instead of “http,” with the “s” standing for secure (it’s the secure version of hypertext transfer protocol). These two indicators point to a website that keeps user data secure (as below).

What information does an SSL certificate contain?

SSL certificates contain the following information:

  • The domain name that the certificate is meant to protect (usually this is your business name or something close to it).
  • The certificate recipient (i.e., the domain owner or device the certificate was issued to).
  • Subdomains associated with the domain.
  • The certificate issuer (i.e., the Certificate Authority).
  • The certificate issuer’s digital signature.
  • The certificate’s date of issue.
  • The certificate’s expiry date.
  • The SSL certificate’s public key (which is a long text string).

What are public keys? To answer that question, we’ll need to understand how SSL works.

How does SSL work?

In a nutshell, encryption algorithms form the backbone of SSL and SSL certificates. These algorithms ensure data transferred between a browser and server is unreadable by scrambling it during transfer.

Everything from names, addresses, passwords, credit card details, and other sensitive data becomes a jumbled mess of characters when sent over a secure connection. The process prevents hackers from stealing such information.

A typical data exchange on a secure connection goes as follows:

  1. Your visitor’s browser attempts to connect to your secure website
  2. Their browser requests the web server serving your website identify itself
  3. The web server responds with a copy of your website’s SSL certificate
  4. Your visitor’s browser examines the SSL certificate and decides whether to trust it or not
  5. If your visitor’s browser trusts the certificate, it’ll signal its trust to the web server
  6. The web server will respond by sending a signed acknowledgment to commence an encrypted session
  7. The browser and server share the encrypted information

what is an ssl certificate - how ssl works

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It may sound like a lot (and it is), but the entire exchange described above happens within milliseconds.

However, the most crucial component of the exchange is the use of SSL keys. SSL certificates have private and public keys that browsers and web servers use to encrypt and decrypt data. The transferred data is encrypted and verified using the sender’s public key.

what is an ssl certificate - private vs public key

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Why are SSL certificates important?

There are several reasons why your website needs an SSL certificate. The most crucial reasons include:

1. Security

Online businesses and websites that ask their users for their personal information need SSL certificates.

The web has evolved such that businesses now store sensitive information like medical records and social security details online. That data represents a treasure trove for cybercriminals and identity theft perpetrators hunting for websites with lax security standards. And, as the infographic below shows, it will only get worse.

what is an ssl certificate - cyber crime rate

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SSL certificates ensure everything from login credentials to online transactions remain private and safe from spoofing, phishing, and other kinds of attacks.

Also, SSL certificates inspire confidence in the average internet user. When they see the padlock, it tells them they’re browsing a secure site that values sensitive customer data. In point three below, we reveal what a user sees in place of the padlock when browsing an unsecured site.

2. Rank higher in search

In 2014, Google stated on its blog that it would use HTTPS as a ranking signal. In other words, the search engine would begin to rank websites with SSL certificates higher on its results pages than those without.

search engine optimization - google ranking factors

SSL is a Google ranking factor.

Google’s reason for this algorithm update was understandable and noble: “To keep everyone safe on the web.” The search engine didn’t want to send users to unsecured and potentially harmful websites. After all, doing otherwise would impact its business long term, as users would seek out competitors whose search algorithms returned safer sites.

The rest, as they say, is history: As of October 2022, https is a standard security technology adopted by 81.5% of the websites on the web.

If your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, it risks falling behind websites that do. And considering 75% of people never scroll past the first page of SERPs, the higher you rank, the better.

✴️ Is your website optimized for SEO and security?

Find out instantly with our Free Website Grader!

3. Improve the user experience

Finally, if your website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, it’ll give visitors a bad user experience, which, as you may or may not know, is becoming more and more important in SEO every year.

How?

Remember our good friend Google? It made good on its promise “to keep everyone safe on the web” in more ways than one. Other than a lower search ranking, your site risks being outed as carefree about its visitors’ safety if it doesn’t have an SSL certificate.

As the image below shows, Google’s Chrome browser will give your site’s visitors visual cues that tell them it’s not secure.

1675966960 510 What Is an SSL Certificate Why Your Website Needs

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Consider this: Chrome is the most widely used of the three major browsers (the other two being Safari and Edge). The browser has an enormous 64.5% market share, meaning most of your site’s visitors will likely use it.

Would you want every visitor to see that conspicuous “Not Secure” message in their browser address bar?

But it doesn’t end there. The message will likely spook your visitors and send them fleeing from your site, resulting in a high bounce rate. A high bounce rate will mean a lower ranking, which will mean less traffic. Less traffic means you’ll have fewer visitors, which means fewer leads, and so on and so forth.

Types of SSL certificates

So, you know what SSL certificates are and why they’re important for your website and SEO. Now let’s discuss the types of SSL certificates available for your website.

1. Extended validation certificates (EV SSL)

An extended validation certificate is the most comprehensive and expensive type of certificate you can get. While any business is free to get this certificate, it’s usually larger businesses that have them.

what is an ssl certificate - extended validation certificate example

As the image above shows, this certificate displays the following information about your website in a visitor’s browser bar:

  • A green padlock symbol that indicates your site is secure
  • Your business’s name
  • The country
  • https

The reason this type of certificate displays so much information is because the data helps to distinguish your website from malicious sites. And if you run websites that collect user data or process plenty of online payments, you’ll probably need these premium certificates.

Also, you’ll need to subject yourself to a standardized verification process to get this certificate. That involves proving you’re the legal holder of the domain you submit.

2. Organization-validated certificates (OV SSL)

Organization-validated certificates are a rung down the SSL certificate price ladder from extended validation certificates. Like the latter certificate, you’ll need to subject yourself to a verification exercise to obtain one. And, just like EV SSL certificates, they display information about your business in your visitors’ address bars.

OV SSL certificates encrypt data transmitted during sensitive transactions, minimizing cybersecurity risks. While not as powerful as EV SSL certificates, they’re effective enough that commercial websites use them.

types of ssl certificates

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3. Domain-validated certificates (DV SSL)

Compared to OV SSL and EV SSL certificates, domain-validated certificates provide a moderate level of protection from domain attacks. The verification process isn’t as stringent, so these certificates offer basic encryption.

They’re inexpensive to obtain, making them perfect for websites that don’t collect data from users (e.g., blogs and information websites).

Domain-validated certificates don’t display as much information in your visitors’ browser bar as EV SSL and OV SSL certificates. They stop short of displaying information about your business, only showing the https before your website’s URL and the padlock icon.

More SSL certificate types

Please note that the above three aren’t the only types of SSL certificates available. Some other certificate types include:

  • Single-domain SSL certificate: A single-domain SSL certificate provides security for one domain. It doesn’t extend protection to subdomains or additional domains. So your single-domain certificate for yourdomainname.com won’t secure your blog.yourdomainname.com subdomain or the unique additional domain yourdomainname.net.
  • Wildcard SSL certificate: These certificates are a step up from single-domain SSL certificates. A wildcard SSL certificate lets you secure your main domain and multiple sub-domains. They’re excellent for securing subdomains for mail, payments, login, and so on. Naturally, they’re more expensive than single-domain SSL certificates.
  • Multi-domain SSL certificate: As its name suggests, this SSL certificate secures multiple domain names and subdomains. In addition, you can secure a mix of unique domain names, including ones that end in different extensions (i.e., .com, .net, .io, .ai, etc.). They’re also called unified communications SSL certificates.

In the section below, we’ll briefly discuss the determining factor for choosing a certificate type for your website and how to install one.

How to install an SSL certificate

By now, you should be convinced about why your website needs an SSL certificate. So how do you set one up? The process goes something like this:

  1. Choose your certificate: This step is easy enough as you can let the nature of your website inform your decision. A domain-validated certificate will suffice if you don’t plan to collect data from your users or accept payments online. Otherwise, you’ll need an OV SSL or EV SSL certificate (if your budget allows).
  2. Choose a certificate authority: You can’t install an SSL certificate without obtaining one first, and you’ll need to approach a Certificate Authority like DigiCert for that. You can get your certificate from a DigiCert reseller.
  3. Set up your server: Ensure your WHOIS record is up to date and matches what your Certificate Authority will have on file. Also, create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) on your server, or get your hosting service provider to do it for you.
  4. Submit your certificate signing request: Forward your CSR to your chosen Certificate Authority for validation. The CA will perform company details and domain validation.
  5. Install your SSL certificate: When the CA gives your CSR the okay, you can install your SSL certificate (more below).

Your SSL certificate will require configuration on your web host’s server or your personal one (i.e., if you’re self-hosting your website).

Also, please bear in mind that the time it takes to obtain an SSL certificate varies depending on the type of certificate you decide to get. Whereas you can obtain a domain-validated certificate in minutes, an extended-validation certificate can take as much as a week or more to acquire.

Secure your website with an SSL certificate 

If you intend to process online payments or collect sensitive data from your users, you’ll need an SSL certificate for your website. These digital certificates are crucial because they secure your website by encrypting data sent from and to it.

In addition, search engines like Google use the presence or absence of an SSL certificate to determine how well your website ranks. And the absence of an SSL certificate can impact your visitors’ user experience through off-putting visual cues.

Luckily, there are many types of SSL certificates you can use. When choosing, use your website’s security needs as the determining factor. 

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How to Get Clients for Your Agency (That You’ll Love Working With)

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How to Get Clients for Your Agency (That You’ll Love Working With)

You can’t grow an agency if you don’t get new clients. Heck, you can’t even stay the same size, as some clients will leave eventually. And that’s why new client acquisition is always a top challenge for agencies.

How to get clients - Graph showing agency issues

AgencyAnalytics proved what most know: getting clients is a constant struggle for agencies.

What’s even harder is finding the right clients. You know, the ones your agency can make successful and that you actually enjoy working with.

That’s why we included tips in this guide that will not only help you get new clients, but also sift out the clients that aren’t a great fit (and will become a drain on your resources).

We’re focused on ad and marketing agencies here, but most of these principles will help any service provider get more amazing clients:

  1. Generate referrals
  2. Get reviews
  3. Network with complementary businesses
  4. Turn employees into ambassadors
  5. Share your secrets
  6. Present fixes to prospect’s problems
  7. Price properly
  8. Be active on social media
  9. Create an ideal customer profile
  10. Go big on social proof
  11. Be transparent

1. Generate referrals from past and present clients

Referrals come from happy clients that introduce your agency to new prospects. That means a referred lead already has some trust in your agency, making it one of the most valuable types of leads you can get.

The first step in generating more referrals is simply to ask for them. Reach out to current and even past clients and ask if anyone else they know could benefit from the results you’ve provided.

But to really put your new client acquisition on overdrive, take a page from other high-growth companies and create a customer referral program.

How to get clients - screenshot of hello fresh's referral programHow to get clients - screenshot of hello fresh's referral program

B2C companies like Hello Fresh rock customer referral programs and your agency can, too.

To get your referral program going:

  • Choose the offer: Pick an incentive, like a free service or future discount, to give to clients that successfully refer a new lead.
  • Make it easy: Create a simple form clients can use to refer other businesses.
  • Promote your program: Remind clients during regular meetings and via email so your referral program is always top of mind.

🛑 We’re just getting started! Get this free guide and learn actionable strategies to get new clients, expand your team, and refine your agency offerings.

2. Get reviews

Reviews are like referrals on blast. A single detailed review of your services in a highly visible place like Google can influence hundreds of would-be clients. And since 88% of people say an online review is as influential as a personal recommendation, reviews are an important method to get clients.

Get more clients - example of an agency review on GoogleGet more clients - example of an agency review on Google

Reviews on popular online platforms are new-client magnets.

Of course, the first step in getting great reviews is to provide great service. Assuming you have that covered, you’ll want to attract new reviews in as many ways as possible.

Here are a few tactics you can use:

  • Directly ask (here’s a list of templates to ask for reviews by phone, email, and more)
  • Add a link with a call to action on your website
  • Hand out physical “leave us a review” card
  • Include review opportunities in customer satisfaction surveys

Don’t forget to respond to reviews, since most people reading a review also see your response. It’s a chance to celebrate great reviews and rectify the less-than-flattering ones.

3. Network with complementary businesses

Other businesses in your sphere need clients, too. You can help each other out by trading referrals.

Let’s say you focus on content marketing, but one of your clients needs help running PPC campaigns. Offer the lead to a PPC agency you trust and ask that they return the favor sometime.

LinkedIn is an amazing place to build your professional network. Message complementary businesses and let them know you’ll look out for them if they do the same.

4. Turn employees into ambassadors

Each of your employees has a network and a sphere of influence. As they work in their field longer, their influence grows. Tap into this network by helping your employees become ambassadors for your agency.

Get more clients - example of an agency employee's post on Linkedin.Get more clients - example of an agency employee's post on Linkedin.

Even if it’s just reposting content your agency creates, employees can introduce your agency to lots of new audiences.

An easy way to do this is to ask your team to post about important company milestones on their social media accounts. Maybe it’s your 100th client, 10-year anniversary, or the company retreat. Posts like this help build your brand without pushing a hard sell—something many people would be reluctant to do on their personal feeds.

Another option is to send employees to conferences. Junior team members can benefit from the educational and networking experience. Senior employees could be speakers or panelists. In either case, you’ll have people out in the field drumming up awareness for your business.

5. Share your secrets

Most people will run marketing in house before they turn to an agency. Teach people how to do it themselves, and your agency will be at the top of the list when it’s time to hire.

That may sound counter-intuitive, but some of the biggest modern businesses grew rapidly using that exact technique.

Get more clients - Screenshot of TikTok about PPC ads.Get more clients - Screenshot of TikTok about PPC ads.

TikTok is a sleeper hit for educating prospective clients with quick, fun videos.

The good news is, there are plenty of formats and channels to educate your future clients. Without getting terribly creative, here are 10 options:

  1. Produce a blog (bonus points because it’ll help your SEO)
  2. Create a newsletter
  3. Speak at conferences and events
  4. Publish guest posts
  5. Be a podcast guest
  6. Create (or co-host) a webinar
  7. Share educational videos on TikTok or YouTube
  8. Post content on social media (especially LinkedIn!)
  9. Create mini-courses on your website
  10. Hold in-person lunch-and-learns

With a little imagination, you can probably come up with more. The goal is to pick the platforms that you’re comfortable with and that will appeal to your future clients.

6. Present fixes to prospect’s problems

This is an underrated tactic for getting new clients. Google companies in your target niche and see what their existing ad campaigns look like. Make a list of what you’d do differently, then email the company with ideas for them to improve.

This strategy works great for any type of marketing agency because advertising is, by nature, public. You can also use tools like Ahrefs or Moz to learn more about what’s working or not with your prospect’s marketing efforts.

Sure, some will take your thoughts and run with them. But many will want your help to make sure their next campaign is better.

7. Price properly

Agency pricing isn’t just about making a profit, it’s part of your brand. Let’s break this down.

Do you offer a truly a premium option with white-glove service? Then your pricing should be a little higher than your average competitor. Not just to cover the costs of the additional service, but also to signal to clients that what you do is different.

Alternatively, if your niche is helping fledgling businesses get a foothold online, and you do it at scale using automation, then your pricing might be lower. Again, it’s not just about the cost-plus-profit calculation. It’s another way to express your brand.

👋 Want to know how other agencies price their services (plus what they see as their biggest challenges)? Download the free State of the Digital Marketing Agency Report and find out.

8. Be active on social media

It’s impossible to understate the value of time spent on social media. Nowhere else can you build a network, prove your expertise, and directly connect with future clients on such a large scale.

But here’s the thing: you can’t just be a lurker. You have to be consistently active to get the benefits of social media.

Get more clients - screenshot of an interaction on social media.Get more clients - screenshot of an interaction on social media.

Don’t just post on social media; reply to comments on your posts and comment on other people’s posts.

Here are a few actions that’ll get you more clients quickly from social media:

  • Look for hashtags relevant to your business and join those conversations
  • Reply to other people’s posts
  • Save your replies and expand on them to create new posts
  • Reply to everyone who comments on your posts
  • Fill out your profile completely (add links, professional images, and a business description)

9. Create an ideal customer profile

    An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a little like a buyer persona, but it focuses more on your client’s organization than just the point of contact. This works well for agencies selling to other businesses, since people change positions, but the company remains relatively the same.

    Creating an ICP takes a few minutes, but the time is worthwhile. An ICP will help you find the clients that help you be more successful while filtering out those that’ll drain your agency’s resources.

    Here are a few steps you can use to create a basic ICP for your agency:

    • List client traits you want to have on your ICP: For agencies, it’ll be things like marketing goals, business model, company size, and industry.
    • Review past clients: Where do successful and less successful clients fall in these categories?
    • Create a point system: Assign points to each trait (so if your dental clients are always successful and construction clients aren’t, then dental prospects get 3 points and construction prospects get 0).

    Place all of this on a spreadsheet. Then continue to refine your ICP based on the success of new clients. Over time you’ll have a foolproof way of finding the best clients for your agency.

    10. Go big on social proof

    We’ve already mentioned how positive reviews and referrals help you build a fast-growing agency. Social proof does the same thing, only it’s much broader and more flexible.

    Get more clients - screenshot of an agency's website with social proofGet more clients - screenshot of an agency's website with social proof

    Splash your awards, reviews, and results all over your website.

    Social proof is just about any trust signal that shows people how awesome your agency is. That can be quotes from customers, the total revenue you’ve earned clients, logos of companies you’ve helped, or awards you’ve won.

    Social proof can also be long form, like customer stories or case studies.

    As you gather proof that your agency is awesome, put that stuff on everything. Landing pages, emails, proposals, anywhere a potential client might learn about your business should be decorated with social proof.

    11.Be transparent

    It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of signing a new client. But it’s really important to communicate the realities of working with you at the very beginning. If the truth of what you do and how you do it scares a client away, that’ll save you a ton of headache later on (and allow that client to find the right agency for them).

    Here are a few points to make clear as you’re wooing new clients:

    • What you can and can’t do: If you’re a PPC expert but haven’t focused on SEO, let the client know.
    • Set a communication schedule: Let your new client know they’ll get a review every month and that Fridays are off-limits.
    • Set proper expectations: Tell a customer upfront that results will take a while if they’re in a heavily populated market and have a small budget.
    • Don’t be afraid to say no: If a client asks for something that will not work, tell them so.
    • Put everything in writing: Document each call in an email that you can refer to if there are questions later on.

    You may turn a few clients away who have unrealistic expectations. But know that they’ll be back after the agency that lies to them doesn’t deliver.

    Learn how to get clients faster

    If you don’t have a team of dedicated, experienced business development professionals selling your agency, then you might find it difficult to keep new clients flowing through the front door.

    No problem! Just remember these tips and you’ll find plenty of ways to get clients, even without a team of salespeople.

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45+ Inclusive Holiday Marketing Ideas (+Examples!)

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45+ Inclusive Holiday Marketing Ideas to Shine Bright This Season

Diverse and inclusive marketing should be something you aim for year-round. However, it’s all that much more important during the holiday season as the more “traditional” holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving take the spotlight.

There’s nothing wrong with celebrating these holidays and incorporating them into your marketing, but there are other groups and events that individuals in your audience appreciate.

inclusive marketing holidays - holiday marketing calendar example

A marketing calendar like this can help you plan your inclusive holiday marketing. 

That’s why we’ve rounded up over 40 inclusive holiday marketing ideas and examples so your business can shine bright this season.

Table of contents

Jump to inclusive marketing ideas for…

Inclusive November holiday marketing ideas & examples

To kick things off, check out these inclusion-focused marketing ideas for November:

Native American Heritage Month

If you’re hoping to incorporate Native American Heritage Month into your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts this season, you’ll be in good company as The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Insituation, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum all regularly pay homage to this November monthly observance.

Native American Heritage Month is observed annually every November, and it celebrates the contributions the first Americans made towards the growth of the United States. It also honors and reflects on the struggles indigenous American people have endured.

native american heritage month tweetnative american heritage month tweet

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National Day of Mourning

A historically accurate description of Thanksgiving would include the reality of its damaging impact on Native American people, which is why we have the National Day of Mourning every year on Thanksgiving—to remind us of the pain Native American people have gone through, and still may be feeling today.

Here are some ideas for ways your business can pay its respects to Native American Heritage Month as well as the National Day of Mourning:

  • Amplify the voices of Native Americans by handing off your Instagram account to a Native American in your community for a day-long “takeover.” They can then go live on your stories or share posts about what Native American Heritage month means to them.
  • Loop Native American Heritage month and the National Day of Mourning into your Thanksgiving messaging by sharing more concious content around the holiday’s impact on Native American people.
  • Check out the free Native American Heritage Month resources on the U.S. Small Business Administration website. There you can find statistics to share, lists of Native American-Owned businesses to partner with, and more.
  • Spread awareness using a social media hashtag. The official hashtag for Native American Heritage Month is #NAHM.

inclusive marketing ideas - example native american heritage month linkedin postinclusive marketing ideas - example native american heritage month linkedin post

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National Adoption Month

There is always a lot of messaging around family during the holiday season, which makes it particularly important to stay mindful of those with non-traditional families. National Adoption Month, celebrated every November to bring awareness to children in foster care, provides an opportunity for this. Here are some ways to incorporate it into your holiday marketing campaigns:

  • Avoid using traditional parent roles in your holiday copywriting, like “mom” and “dad” which may make your audience members who don’t have that type of parental figure feel excluded.
  • Adjust your content to be more sensitive to those with different family structures. For example, instead of promoting an event as a “family fun day,” try “friends and family fun day” or “festival fun day.”
  • Highlight a superstar adoption story in your business’s community. If you have an employee, friend, or community member who was part of an adoption process, ask to share their story to showcase how they inspire your business during this month and beyond.
  • Raise awareness about adoption within minority groups. For example, did you know that adoptions done by LGBTQ+ couples only became legal in all 50 states just a few years ago in 2017?

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - example instagram post for adoption monthinclusive holiday marketing ideas - example instagram post for adoption month

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❤Find the right words for your inclusive holiday marketing copy using our free guide to emotional copywriting complete with over 130 words and phrases for marketing with emotion.

Day of the Dead (November 1-2)

Day of the Dead, also known as Dia de los Muertos, is a Mexican holiday that honors the soulds of the deceased. It’s a two-day celebration that starts every year on November 1 and carries into November 2. This colorful and fun holiday is believed to open the passageway between the real world and the spirit world in traditional Mexican culture, so many people of Mexican descent feel they can connect with their loved ones who have passed during this time.

Nearly 20% of the U.S. population is of Mexican heritage, so you’ll likely have audience members who celebrate Day of the Dead. Make your Mexican audience members feel included in your holiday marketing with these ideas and examples:

  • Share fun facts or hold a virtual trivia event centered around Day of the Dead to spread the word about the holiday’s traditions.
  • Decorate your store or office with traditional Day of the Dead skulls, flowers, and more. Be sure to snap a picture of your temporarily updated decor so you can share it on your company website or social media platforms.
  • Honor those who have passed. Have you or an employee ever lost a friend or loved one you’d like to commemorate? Day of the Dead is the perfect opportunity to do so! You could share their story on social media to give your audience a more personalized perspective of your business.

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - example day of the dead office decorationsinclusive holiday marketing ideas - example day of the dead office decorations

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Forget-Me-Not Day (November 10)

Having been around since World War I, Forget-Me-Not Day happens annually on November 10 — right before Veteran’s Day on November 11. Forget-Me-Not Day is meant to honor and remember wounded soldiers who have become disabled due to their time fighting for our freedom.

The number of veterans who carry the weight of service-related physical and mental hardships is very high. In fact, counting only wars from 2001 and beyond still amounts to about 1.5 million veterans in America with a service-connected disability. While wounded veterans should be remembered every day, here’s how your marketing can honor them on Forget-Me-Not Day:

  • Donate your time, resources, or (if your marketing budget allows) money to a local Veteran’s organization or shelter.
  • Be mindful of your veteran (and civilian) customers who have a disability by focusing on your website accessibility. Take time to ensure your site is easy to navigate regardless of what assistance someone might need. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this complete website accessibility checklist.

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - example forget me not day instagram postinclusive holiday marketing ideas - example forget me not day instagram post

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Women Entrepreneurs Day (November 19)

Only four out of every ten entrepreneurs in the U.S. are women. Women Entrepreneurs Day, occurring annually on November 19, aims to change that.

This inclusive holiday is much needed, as America is still far behind other countries in terms of women entrepreneurs. In comparison, women represent 50% of entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean. Here’s how your business can make an impact with this holiday:

  • Share surprising statistics about women entrepreneurs through an email marketing campaign or social media post. These are sure to engage your audience while spreading awareness. You can find plenty of diversity, equity, and inclusion in marketing statistics here.
  • Partner with a woman-owned business. You could cross-promote one another in-store or online, and offer samples or discounts on each other’s offerings.
  • Support the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization. Also known as WEDO, this organization acts as a hub for Women Entrepreneurs Day. On its site you’ll find many ways to elevate your marketing for the day, including events you can attend, ways to donate, custom hashtags, surprising statistics, inspiring stories, and more!

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - women entrepreneurs day marketing example inclusive holiday marketing ideas - women entrepreneurs day marketing example

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Transgender Day of Rememberance (November 20)

Transgender Day of Rememberance occurs annually on November 20 to honor and remember transgender people who lost their lives due to anti-transgender violence. It started in 1998 in memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was stabbed in Allston, Massachusetts that same year.

This inclusive holiday is important to acknowledge because, sadly, these acts of violence are still occuring as 2020 was the most violent year on record for transgender people. Your business can become a transgender ally on Transgender Rememberance Day and beyond with these ideas:

  • Donate or volunteer to a local LGBTQ+ organization.
  • Spread awareness and acceptance by openly sharing your allyship on your website, social media, local listings, and more.
  • If you have an employee, family member, friend, or community member who is openly transgender you could ask their permission to highlight their story in an email send or social post.
  • Amplify transgender voices by resharing public speeches, posts, and more from transgender people. You could even handing off your “mic” by allowing a transgender person in your business’s community to do a social media takeover.

inclusive holiday marketing - transgender day of rememberance exampleinclusive holiday marketing - transgender day of rememberance example

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Inclusive December holiday marketing ideas and examples

Here are some December marketing ideas that will help you to embrace diversity and inclusion:

Rosa Parks Day (December 1)

Rosa Parks Day is celebrated twice annually, once on December 1 and once on February 4. This inclusive holiday is to, of course, honor civil rights hero and leader Rosa Parks.

The Rosa Parks story is one no American citizen can forget, as she bravely did not give up her seat to a white passenger after a long day of work on December 1, 1955. This action jumpstarted the Montgomery Bus Boycott organized by E.D. Nixon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders at the time. Here’s how your business can observe Rosa Parks Day:

  • Encourage your audience to educate themselves on Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement by sharing with them your favorite books around the era. For example, Rosa Parks herself wrote a couple of books, including Rosa Parks: My Story and Quiet Strength: The Faith, The Hope, and the Heart of a Woman Who Changed a Nation.
  • Partner with a black-owned business in your community and run a joint campaign themed around civil rights and standing up (or sitting down) for what you believe in.
  • Run a Rosa Parks-themed giveaway. There is a Rosa Parks museum at Troy University in Alabama. You could entice your audience to enter to win free tickets to the museum or do a full-on sweepstake by offering a complete trip to tour the museum.

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - rosa parks day example instagram postinclusive holiday marketing ideas - rosa parks day example instagram post

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Human Rights Day (December 10)

Inclusivity means making sure all types of people feel like they belong, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, etc. That’s why Human Rights Day (occurring on December 10 each year) is the perfect holiday to incorporate into your inclusive marketing this season.

Human Rights Day was created by the UN in 1948 to proclaim the rights everyone is entitled to as a human being “regardless race, color, religion, sex, language, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.” Show your audience you support the rights of all people with these Human Rights Day marketing ideas:

  • Attend a human rights event and share a recap of your experience with your audience to inspire them to do the same. There are plenty of political summits, cultural conferences, and more held on Human Rights Day, so simply being present at an event in your community can spread awareness and inspiration.
  • Create a shareable, public playlist of your favorite songs about human rights. There are plenty of inspiring songs your audience will want to listen to, so you could simply build a quick list on a platforms like Pandora, Spotify, Soundcloud, and more. Be sure to include your business name in your playlist’s title so that your audience will think of your brand as they listen. As a bonus, you could have the playlist play for the day in your store or office, and share a quote from one of your top songs on social media.

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - human rights day example linkedin post inclusive holiday marketing ideas - human rights day example linkedin post

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Hanukkah

Also known as the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration. The dates of Hannukah change each year as it starts on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar. Hanukkah traditions include lighting a menorah, exchanging gifts, and enjoying cultural cuisine like latkes (potato pancakes). Over 5% of Americans celebrate Hannukah, so here’s how your business can take part:

  • The best part of any holiday? The food! Try sharing a traditional Hanukkah recipe on various marketing channels.
  • If you’re decorating your office or store for Christmas, stay mindful of those who celebrate Hanukkah as well by including a menorah, dreidels, and more in your display.
  • Use our Hanukkah Instagram captions for post inspiration.
  • Play off the eight days of Hanukkah by writing a blog post or email that shares eight tips or eight top products for your audience to check out.

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - hanukkah email tips exampleinclusive holiday marketing ideas - hanukkah email tips example

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Speaking of email, do you have your annual holiday customer appreciation email written? If not (or even if you do), don’t miss our heartfelt holiday email templates.

Kwanzaa (December 26 – January 1)

Kwanzaa is a seven-day African American holiday that occurs annually from December 26 to January 1. Each day of the celebration is dedicated to the following seven cultural principles: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. Work the values of Kwanzaa into your inclusive holiday marketing plan with these ideas:

  • Focus on one of the seven Kwanzaa principles and share with your audience how your business strives to embody it. For example, you could incorporate unity or collective responsibility into your video marketing strategy by giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look at the teamwork of your employees.
  • As you decorate your store or office for Christmas and Hanukkah, be sure to include Kwanzaa as well. For example, each day of Kwanzaa requires one of seven candles to be lit — which are in an arrangement called a Kinara. You could add a Kinara to your decor, or include other Kwanzaa decorations like traditional African crops such as ears of dried corn and more.
  • Try out any of these Kwanzaa Instagram captions.
  • Add a twist to one of your products or offerings and refresh it for the Kwanzaa season by changing its name or colors.

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - kwanzaa product positioning in an example emailinclusive holiday marketing ideas - kwanzaa product positioning in an example email

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Inclusive January holiday marketing ideas and examples

Some of the “bigger” holidays may be over by the time January comes around, but there are still plenty of diverse holidays you can leverage in your inclusive marketing strategy this month:

National Braille Literacy Month

January is Braille Literacy Month because Louie Braille, the creator of the braille system, was born in January. This monthly observance is meant to bring awareness to those who are visually impaired. Here’s how your business can take part in National Braille Literacy Month:

  • Audit your website for visual accessibility features and optimize where you can to cater to your visually impaired audience members.
  • Share fun facts about the braille system to entertain your audience while spreading awareness of the need for braille literacy. For example, did you know that Braille is primarily created by just six dots? And, there are separate codes used for music, math, walkways, and more!

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - example braille literacy month facebook postinclusive holiday marketing ideas - example braille literacy month facebook post

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 15)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day occurs on the third Monday of every January to commemorate his birthday on January 15. It’s no secret that Dr. King played one of the most impactful roles in American history as he helped lead the civil rights movement. In fact, this holiday is also often called Civil Rights Day, since Dr. King had such an influence on the civil rights movements during the 1950’s, 1960’s, and beyond. Dr. King’s legacy still resonates today as we continue to strive for equality across the nation. Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with these ideas:

  • Share an inspiring story or quote from Dr. King’s life to celebrate his work with your audience.
  • Lead by example by embodying Dr. King’s principle of peaceful protest. Is there a cause in your community or industry that you feel passionate about? Hold a peaceful in-person or virtual event to discuss the topic with your brand’s community members.

inclusive holiday marketing - dr martin luther king jr quote feature on social mediainclusive holiday marketing - dr martin luther king jr quote feature on social media

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National Religious Freedom Day (January 16)

National Religious Freedom Day is celebrated each year on January 16 because the Statute for Religious Freedom was signed on January 16, 1786. This statute created the base for the core principles our country still stands by to this day, and guaranteed freedom to practice any desired religion is one of the privelages Americans rely on. Show how your business cares this holiday season by implementing these Religious Freedom Day marketing ideas:

  • If you’re using stock photos on your website, social media, Google Ads campaigns, and other marketing materials, try to ensure you’re using diverse visuals to embrace religious freedom. For example, you might try to include images of women wearing hijabs, or men wearing kippahs or yarmulkes. We share more tips on inclusivity in advertising here.
  • Join a National Religious Freedom Day online discussion to share the religion you practice and encourage your audience to do the same. If you don’t currently practice any religion, that’s okay too! Acknowledging the norm that everyone’s religious journey (or lack thereof) is different will be the point of this inclusive marketing idea. Plus, you’ll be building your brand community as you foster an open discussion with your audience.
  • Educate your audience on their religious freedom rights by sharing out resources on laws and regulations relating to religious freedom.

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - religious freedom inclusive holiday marketing ideas - religious freedom

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💡 Make the most of these inclusive marketing holidays with our guide to the 30 best ways to promote your business year-round.

International Day of Acceptance (January 20)

International Day of Acceptance is fairly new as it was established back in 2010. It was created to foster social acceptance for those with disabilities. International Day of Acceptance happens every year on January 20 and reminds us that people should feel comfortable to be who they are regardless of their varying abilities. Here are some inclusive holiday marketing ideas you can leverage on this day and beyond to make your audience feel more accepted:

  • Promote a new product or service offering that’s tailored to the needs of those with disabilities.
  • Share helpful resources for your customers to educate themselves on disabilities, acceptance, and allyship.
  • Spread the word of this inclusive holiday on social media with the hashtag #dayofacceptance and implement the symbol of acceptance (a wheelchair intertwined with a heart) in your creative elements.

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - acceptance day instagram post inclusive holiday marketing ideas - acceptance day instagram post

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Chinese New Year

Many people assume the holiday festivities end on December 31, but the Chinese New Year keeps the celebrations going since it happens shortly after, between January 21 and February 20 depending on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. The public holiday will last for seven days, but celebrations can go on for 16 days.

Try out these Chinese New Year celebration ideas:

  • Share the Chinese zodiac chart on your website or social media so that your audience can check out what their own chinese zodiac would be. For example, 2023 will be the year of the rabbit. Perhaps it will be a special year for some of your customers whose birth year aligns with the rabbit!
  • Use our New Year’s Instagram captions to publish engaging and thought-provoking posts.
  • Partner with a local Chinese-owned business and offer a special deal to patrons of both your businesses during Chinese New Year.

inclusive holiday marketing ideas - chinese new year marketing exampleinclusive holiday marketing ideas - chinese new year marketing example

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Make your holiday marketing more inclusive this year

It’s super important to recognize beliefs and perspectives other than our own and to give a voice to minority groups—and clearly, there are endless ways you can demonstrate diversity, equity, and inclusion during the holiday season. So be sure to use these inclusive marketing ideas and examples as inspiration to ignite your own holiday promotions.

To recap, here are the holidays and observances we covered:

  • November
    • Native American Heritage Month
    • National Adoption Month
    • Day of the Dead (November 1-2)
    • Forget-Me-Not Day (November 10)
    • Women Entrepreneurs Day (November 19)
    • Transgender Day of Rememberance (November 20)
  • December
    • Rosa Parks Day (December 1)
    • Human Rights Day (December 10)
    • Hanukkah (changes annually)
    • Kwanzaa (December 26 – January 1)
  • January
    • National Braille Literacy Month
    • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 15)
    • National Religious Freedom Day (January 16)
    • International Day of Acceptance (January 20)
    • Chinese New Year (changes annually)

If you’re looking for more resources on growing your business during the holidays, check out these posts:



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5 Quick & Easy Ways to Get More Referral Traffic (+Examples)

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5 Quick Tips to Increase Referral Traffic

Search engines (mostly Google) are still the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to generating clicks to your website. But ignoring referral traffic from other sources like directories, social media, and other websites would be a huge mistake.

This is especially true as younger audiences increasingly search for businesses on social media and as referral traffic increased from 3% to over 10% of total traffic for the average website in 2022.

referral traffic growth year over year

In this guide, you’ll learn the most popular sources of referral traffic, how it helps your business grow, and what you can do to get more clicks from places outside of search engines.

Table of contents

What is referral traffic?

Referral traffic refers to traffic coming from a link on a site that’s not your own. If you clicked the link we added to the introduction of this guide, the website you landed on would count your visit as referral traffic.

By comparison, the other common website traffic sources are search and direct traffic. Search traffic comes from visitors clicking on search engine results. Direct traffic is from visitors that go directly to your website, like if they type your URL into their browser.

Examples of referral traffic sources can include:

  • Social media apps like Facebook or X (formerly known as Twitter)
  • Online directories like Yelp or Angi
  • Just about any non-search engine website like a blog post

👋 Need to get more website visitors? These 25 ways to increase traffic to your website will help you attract interested buyers in droves!

Why is referral traffic beneficial?

If you want to grow your business, attracting more referral traffic is an important step. Here are three reasons why.

Generate more potential leads

At the most basic level, increasing referral traffic means increasing the number of potential customers who visit your website.

But it’s not just more people coming in through your virtual door. It’s people that found you by actively clicking a link that interested them. So if the backlink they clicked is relevant to your website, those visitors have a high intent to learn about, and maybe purchase, what you sell.

Get more traffic from search engines

Backlinks from high-quality websites are a signal to search engines that your website is trustworthy.

Referral traffic - Graphic showing main SEO ranking factorsReferral traffic - Graphic showing main SEO ranking factors

Backlinks are still an influential search engine ranking factor, as shown in this graph from FirstPageSage.

As your backlink profile and referral traffic grow, you’ll land on more search engine results pages and generate more traffic from them.

Reduce your reliance on Google

Google is a fantastic source of traffic. But relying too much on a single source is dangerous—especially as Google’s constant updates can greatly affect your traffic overnight.

Referral traffic - Headline from search engine journal about Google volitilityReferral traffic - Headline from search engine journal about Google volitility

Headlines like this one from Search Engine Journal show why it’s important to diversify your website traffic sources.

As you diversify your sources of referral traffic, you gain more control over the success of your site. If one source, like search, takes a hit, you can buffer the dip with more traffic from another source like directories.

5 ways to get more referral traffic

So generating more referral traffic is important. But how do we go about getting more of it? Let’s dive in.

1. Get listed in online directories

Online directories are like the phonebooks of the digital age. People look to websites like Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, and Angi (formerly Angi’s List) to find the services and business they need.

Referral traffic - screenshot from YelpReferral traffic - screenshot from Yelp

Yelp is one of the most popular business directories, but there are dozens of others that will help increase your online footprint.

Ideally, you want exposure on as many directories as possible. But you also want to make sure that your information is current, so no one gets frustrated trying to reach you. You can even optimize your listings with things like images, service descriptions, and reviews.

🚨 Not sure if your directory listings are up to par? Use our free Listings Grader to instantly check your listing information across 20+ top online directories.

2. Submit guest posts

Guest posts are a great way to build up referral traffic. The idea is to reach out to websites that want content, and offer to write a blog post in exchange for the backlinks they provide.

It’s best to focus your guest posting efforts on sites that are related to your business, which means your content will be in front of a relevant audience providing top-notch referral traffic. If you can set up a regular guest posting schedule, all the better, because that allows you to keep your referral traffic from those sources steady over time and increase traffic to your website.

3. Write press releases

Press releases are a quick and easy way to get a wave of fresh traffic from referring URLs. It’s a great idea to do a press release for an event you’ll be hosting or to announce milestones like executive changes, earnings releases, acquisitions, and product launches.

Referral traffic - Press release from a breweryReferral traffic - Press release from a brewery

A press release is great for promoting new products or events while generating valuable referral traffic from the publications that pick it up.

But to be honest, if you are paying for a press release, you can write about pretty much anything and pretend it’s newsworthy. Some businesses even send out press releases whenever they get a new client.

4. Get active on social media

Social media sites are also natural contenders for bringing in referral traffic. Plus, there are several options to fit your brand and audience.

Facebook, for example, is fantastic for an older audience and organizing events. TikTok caters to a younger crowd and lets you show off your video flair. And of course, there’s LinkedIn, if your target customer is of a professional mindset.

No matter which social media platforms you choose, make sure your posts have a clear call to action that leads people to your website. That’s how you drive referral traffic from social media apps.

Referral traffic - Instagram post from Accessible Community Referral traffic - Instagram post from Accessible Community

Depending on the platform, you can add CTA links, buttons, or text in the caption.

5. Create link-worthy content

If you want to catch backlinks and increase the traffic you get from other websites, you need the right bait. In this case, we’re talking about content that other websites want to link to.

Here are a few types of content that writers and marketers love to link to:

  • Original data: Statistics from a survey or data your app captures
  • Infographics: A roundup of statistics or a visual presentation of a process
  • Opinionated blog posts: A fresh take on a common question in your industry

Once you’ve created your backlink magnet, share it with publications and thought leaders in your industry so they can link back to your site.

Referral traffic the easy way

Referral traffic is an important source of new potential customers. As search engines get more finicky, and more people search social media platforms, referrals will be an even bigger factor in your success online.

As you think about how to get more website visitors from more places, remember these five quick and easy ways to get more referral traffic:

  1. Get listed in online directories
  2. Submit guest posts
  3. Write press releases
  4. Get active on social media
  5. Create link-worthy content

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