Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Stop Building Traffic, and Start Converting It. Here's How

I'll let you in on a little marketing secret.


In the grand scheme of things, building massive amounts of traffic doesn't really matter. What matters is converting that traffic.


Everyone talks about building traffic. That's fine, but it's not the end of the story. If you don't convert your traffic, building it is pointless.


Building traffic is like building a shopping mall. You can easily get people to come through the doors, but if you have only a few lackluster stores, none of those people will turn into customers. You have to give them a reason to stay.


I've seen tons of sites fail miserably because they didn't convert their traffic. A site can have the best idea in the world, but if it doesn't focus on conversion, it'll flop.


Funnily enough, that's what happened to me with my first website experience.


The first site I ever built was a job board called Advice Monkey. I spent over $5,000 to create it and hired three lousy marketing firms. In the end, I learned how to market it myself, but the site still failed because it wasn't set up to take payments.


Had I spent less time marketing and more time optimizing the site for conversions, the site would have done much better. Sure, I probably wouldn't have made millions, but I would've converted more of my traffic and made more than $0.


Take a lesson from me: don't worry much about getting people through the doors while forgetting to build the stores.


Here's how to take all that traffic you worked so hard to build and successfully convert it.


Getting the right mindset


I firmly believe that conversion is an attitude, not just an action. It takes focus and dedication. You have to internalize your goals until they're second nature.


I realize this sounds a little philosophical, but stay with me. You need to see conversion as more than just a bunch of numbers. Why? If you become obsessed with converting, you'll fail.


Here's an example. Say you're hyper-focused on converting. You include a few popups and some social buttons, and before long, your site looks like this:


image04


Okay, it's probably not that bad. But you get the idea.


It's easy to go overboard, and I get that. But as Social Triggers's Derek Halpern points out, going too far can actually become your conversion rate's worst enemy.


You should definitely focus on conversion, but don't get a death grip on it. Conversion is a long-term strategy, not a short-term win.


Now that you've understood the conversion mindset, let's take a look at how to convert all your traffic.


Publish the right content


If I had to pick a favorite form of marketing, it'd be content marketing.


Great content is wildly powerful. The converse is true too: horrible content is wildly destructive.


In fact, your blog can (and will) fail if you get the content wrong. If you create too much content, you'll fail. If you create content that's not relevant to your readers, you'll fail.


So it's imperative you get the content right.


First, you have to decide on the type of content you'll provide. There are many options to choose from: blog posts, webinars, and podcasts, to name a few.


How do you know which type of content is right for you? You have to know your audience. I know my readers are looking for thorough guides, and that's one of the many reasons I use blog posts.


On the other hand, there are people like Tim Ferriss who use podcasts as their medium of choice.


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Tim knows his audience loves interviews with experts, and that's what he gives them.


The lesson: Study your audience until you know them as well as you know your friends. Find out what type of content they respond to the most.


You also have to get the length right. I've found that longform content works best. You might be surprised to know that 3000+ word blog posts get more traffic than shorter posts.


Make conversion easy (but not annoying)


If you want people to convert, you need to make that process easy. If your readers love your content but can't find an easy way to sign up for your list or buy your product, you'll lose out.


There are a few elements you have to get right if you want to boost your conversion rate:


1. Make an irresistible offer


First things first: If your offer itself doesn't amaze your readers, you'll get zero conversions.


To create an irresistible offer, you have to know what your readers want. Delve into your psychographics to find out what drives your audience and why they behave the way they do.


SumoMe's blog post called “The Definitive Guide to Content Upgrades” adds a sweet offer:


image05


Everyone who's reading this post wants to learn more about content upgrades, so SumoMe offers a free e-book. It's specific, relevant, and valuable.


On the other hand, if your offer is not specific, relevant, or valuable, your readers will have no reason to take you up on it. Don't beat around the bush with general offers like a cheat sheet on being a better marketer. Your offer should be targeted specifically to your readers.


When you're working on creating an irresistible offer, make sure it's specific, relevant, and valuable. Your offers build the foundation on which you'll build your conversion.


2. CTAs (calls-to-action)


If your CTAs are boring, your conversion rate will be low.


One of the best ways to write a great CTA is to be specific. “Buy now” could refer to anything, but “download your free e-book” reminds the reader what they're getting.


Your CTA needs copy that's exciting. It should feel like you're inviting the reader on an adventure. It should not feel like you're selling something.


Optimizely uses a straightforward and effective CTA:


image01


There's no hard sell here. It's an invitation to test out the software free. Plus, it's a breeze to fill out.


Design matters too. Your CTA needs to be highly visible so people can find it and click it. It's so simple, right? But many blogs get this wrong.


Brian Dean from Backlinko uses a yellow box for his CTAs:


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The yellow box works because your eye is naturally drawn to it. For Brian, that means higher conversion rates.


Find out what your yellow box is. Don't forget to A/B test to figure out what's working the best (and what you should ax).


Put in the time and effort to create an eye-catching CTA that engages your readers, and you'll be rewarded.


3. Popups


Quiz time: How are popups like Justin Beiber?


As Hunter Boyle of Aweber puts it,



You either love 'em, or hate 'em, but lately you see 'em everywhere-because they still pull in big crowds.



You might find popups annoying, but they work wonders. We successfully used popups on Kissmetrics to double our conversion rate.


Popups play a vital role in converting your traffic, but you shouldn't go overboard. By tastefully using popups, you can skyrocket your conversion rate.


First, you need to decide which type(s) of popups to use. The days of random popups are gone. Instead, opt for triggered popups.


Let's talk about two of my favorite types of popups:



  1. exit intent overlays

  2. scroll-triggered scrollboxes.


You're probably familiar with exit intent popups that appear when your mouse moves to close the tab. An exit intent overlay is a full-screen popup that appears when a user gets ready to leave the site.


Smartblogger uses an exit intent overlay with a cunning strategy:


image06


This popup immediately engages the reader. Instead of being presented with just one option, you get two. And one of them has to be applicable to you. At the very least, it raised your eyebrows, right?


And here's the best part: There are two different lead magnets for the two answers.


You don't have to copy this popup, but I hope it gets you thinking about using exit intent popups. They perform well, but you have to put the work in.


Next up is scroll-triggered scrollboxes. These are the little boxes that pop up on the lower right-hand side of the screen. Usually, these popups appear after you've scrolled down the page.


For example, when you scroll to the bottom of any Crazy Egg post (like this one), you'll see this:


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These are great because they're not intrusive. They take up a small amount of real estate, and they're far less annoying than random popups that cover up half the screen.


The most important takeaway here is that popups should not distract from the user experience of your site visitors. Don't cover up the content or make closing the popup difficult. Respect your readers.


Conclusion


You're probably drawing in plenty of traffic.


Remember, however: what matters most is what you're doing with that traffic.


Create an irresistible offer, and make it accessible to your visitors. People are willing to check out your offer, but it has to be worth their time. So, add as much value to your offer as possible.


I won't lie. Conversion optimization isn't a walk in the park. But it pays off.


And if you nail conversion, you'll have a bunch of satisfied customers in no time.


What are your biggest problems with converting traffic?




Monday, 28 November 2016

Why I Choose to Focus on One Marketing Channel at a Time

I feel like there's an overarching maximalist mindset in marketing these days.


And it's easy to see why.


Brands have never had more strategies to choose from.


There's content marketing, social media, SEO, email, PPC, and influencer marketing, just to name a few.


But that's just the tip of the iceberg, and this doesn't even take into account more traditional offline techniques that many companies still utilize.


In turn, I think many brands are suffering from exhaustion and fatigue.


They're experiencing marketing overload.


I also think marketers don't always extract the full potential from their strategies.


Before they can see one channel through to completion, they've already started working on three more channels.


If I've learned anything during my years as a marketer, it's that simplicity is usually the key to success.


Because of that, I choose to focus on only one marketing channel at a time.


Here's why.


I don't spread myself too thin


You know that old saying that if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one?


I think this applies to marketing as well.


Jumping in head first and attempting to manage, say, four or five different channels can be overwhelming, and you're unlikely to kill it at any strategy.


Even if you're a savvy marketer who knows the ins and outs of the process, you simply can't devote the necessary time to extract the full potential of any single channel.


Just look at the amount of time most marketers spend each week performing routine tasks:


image00


But when you concentrate wholeheartedly on one channel, you can give it a 100% effort.


This helps you not only run your marketing campaign at a high level but also achieve the desired results faster.


Working on too many marketing channels at once is kind of like being a jack of all trades and master of none.


Placing your attention on a single channel allows you to master that channel before moving on to the next strategy.


Managing multiple channels can quickly become chaotic and stressful


Did you know that the average B2B content marketer creates 13 types of content?


You heard it right-13!


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That, in and of itself, is a lot of work.


And just imagine combining that with multiple other channels at the same time.


Things would get hectic in a hurry.


Social media can be pretty intense as well. The average B2B content marketer is active on six different networks:


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Even if you're posting the same content on each network, it's still going to be time-consuming.


I can almost guarantee you'll feel burned out and the overall effectiveness of each channel will be marginal.


And this is going to be even worse if you're new to marketing and/or have a small marketing team.


Or what if you've got a mountain of other business-related tasks on your plate?


There are just not enough hours in the day to devote to your marketing to ensure everything is operating at full capacity.


As a result, certain areas of your marketing campaign are bound to suffer.


Focusing on one marketing channel allows me to continually chip away at it and be highly effective.


I'm far less likely to become overwhelmed, and I can ensure that the specific channel I'm working on is reaching my target audience, generating leads, and leading to conversions.


In other words, it allows me to maximize my ROI without losing my mind along the way.


I ensure I get it right


Would you rather be a virtuoso at playing one musical instrument or a sub-par musician playing four or five?


I personally would prefer to be an expert at a single instrument.


I apply the same approach to marketing.


I would much rather devote the majority of my time to a single channel and completely crush it instead of working on a handful of channels and being painfully mediocre.


After all, what's the point of spending any time whatsoever on a tactic if it's not giving you any tangible results?


To me, it makes way more sense to give maximum effort to a single channel and make it incredibly successful rather than working on multiple channels half-heartedly.


Multitasking minimizes my impact


Working on multiple marketing channels simultaneously is a lot like multitasking because you're constantly bouncing from one technique to another.


But numerous studies have found that multitasking isn't as good as it may seem.


In fact, it can be quite detrimental to your efficiency and overall productivity.


A study from the University of London even “revealed that subjects who multitasked while performing brain-intensive tasks demonstrated IQ drops similar to people who are sleep-deprived or smoked marijuana.”


If you're looking for a scientific explanation of this phenomenon, neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin offers one.


According to him,


Multitasking has been found to increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, which can overstimulate your brain and cause mental fog or scrambled thinking.


image02


The founder and chief technology officer of Wordstream, Larry Kim, even stated in an article for Observer that…


…you're actually hurting your brain by juggling several undertakings at once.


The bottom line is that trying to focus on too many marketing channels at the same time is usually counterproductive and is only going to reduce the impact of your overall campaign.


But focusing on just one at a time allows you to be as effective and efficient as possible.


It costs less


There's also the topic of money.


It's been found that 89% of marketers are maintaining or increasing their inbound budgets.


image01


Implementing only one marketing channel at a time will cost you considerably less than pursuing a multi-channel approach.


According to an article on LinkedIn,


…it has even been estimated that a single-channel marketing strategy can cost as much as one-third less than multiple-channel strategies.


If you're dealing with a fairly small budget, utilizing several techniques may simply not be in the cards for you from a financial standpoint.


Things can get especially ugly if more than one of those techniques tank, and it's obviously going to hurt your ROI.


When I was starting out, the financial resources were often scarce.


Focusing on one marketing channel at a time enabled me to maximize the money I funneled into my campaign.


It allows me to outperform my competitors


When it's all said and done, the absolute most important part of any marketing campaign is its ability to target the right demographic.


And let's be honest. Using a smorgasbord of techniques typically means that each individual technique is less likely to hit its target.


When I divvy up my time across multiple channels, I minimize the effectiveness of any single one.


For this reason, it makes it really difficult to truly stand out from the competition and thrive within my industry.


I'm not really doing anything special or excelling at any particular strategy.


But concentrating on only one channel puts me in a position for success.


Because I eat, sleep, and breathe that one channel for a period of time, it's more likely to flourish and grow.


In some cases, I can even dominate.


That's because most of the competition has a maximalist mindset, trying to have their hand in everything rather than focusing on-and succeeding-in one area.


A final note


Just to be clear, I'm not saying you should limit yourself to just one marketing channel.


That's not what I'm saying at all.


In fact, I would never recommend putting all your eggs in one basket.


What I am saying is that you're likely to reduce your marketing impact if you go overboard and spread yourself too thin-especially during the initial stages of a campaign.


For me, it makes way more sense to focus on a single channel, bring it to full capacity, and maximize its impact.


Once it's established and stabilized, you can move on to the next channel.


In other words, simplify your efforts by working on one channel, and get it running like a well-oiled machine before moving on.


Over time, this approach should help you develop a strong marketing campaign, with no weak links but with techniques that carry their weight.


Conclusion


I know it may seem tempting to experiment with a plethora of marketing channels.


After all, you'll want to see what sticks.


But I know this mentality has gotten me into trouble in the past, and I know it can curtail the progress of each individual channel.


For me, a more effective and practical approach is to focus on one marketing channel at a time.


Doing so allows me to:



  • Manage each channel at a high level

  • Minimize my stress

  • Maximize my impact

  • Save money

  • Better reach my core audience

  • Outperform primary competitors


Only once I've gotten a channel to where it needs to be, I move on to the next.


That way I know I'm never shortchanging a marketing channel, giving it the best possible chance to prosper.


How many marketing channels are you currently implementing?




Friday, 25 November 2016

How to Start Blogging if You Fell off the Wagon a Long Time Ago

People always ask me how I've built up such a huge audience for my blogs.


Part of my secret sauce? I've been blogging for well over a decade now.


But not everyone has been blogging for years, and I get that. Some of you may have started a blog years ago but abandoned it.


I can relate. There were several times when I almost quit blogging. I was scared it wouldn't pan out for me. And it does take time. But I stuck with it, and I'm so happy I did.


And here's the best part: It's not too late for you to start blogging.


I know what you're thinking: “There are a million blogs in my niche. Why should I even try to compete with them?”


There are two main reasons. First, you bring something unique to the table. No one else has experienced everything you have. And besides, your blog should be different from your competition's, not a carbon copy.


Second, start seeing competition as a good thing. Competition means the niche is popular and profitable. You can actually leverage that competition to get more views on your blog.


If you fell off the blogging wagon a while back, you can (and should!) jump back on. Here's how to get (re)started.


1. Pick up where you left off


Here's something that will relieve you: You don't have to start from scratch.


If your old blog is still up, pay it a visit. It's probably a barren wasteland, but you can salvage some useful scraps from it.


If you want to blog in the same niche you did before, I highly recommend repurposing content. It's one of the easiest and most efficient ways to get extra mileage out of existing material.


If you still have access to any old material, pull it out and dust it off. Chances are it's still relevant to your niche. Or maybe it just needs a few edits to make it shine again.


Assuming you remember (or can retrieve) your login information, you can use this blog to restart if you want. If you still own the domain name (and if you want to blog in the same niche), there's no reason not to reuse your old blog. Edit your content, give it a redesign, and you'll be off to the races.


But if you do opt for a shiny new blog, you can simply transfer your content over.


Either way, you'll take advantage of what you did in the past to make the future easier.


2. Make a big comeback


You want to re-enter the blogosphere with a bang.


There are two ways you can do this.


The first approach is to jump right back into the game and start blogging regularly. If you've got a lot of motivation and ideas, this could be a good approach for you.


For example, you could follow in Seth Godin's footsteps and start blogging every day.


image01


Of course, your posts should be longer. But as an example of consistency, Seth's blog stands head and shoulders above the rest.


But you don't have to blog every day-you just have to blog consistently. Otherwise, there's no point.


Decide how many posts you'll publish per week, and get to it. You absolutely have to stick to your schedule if you want to come back on a strong note.


The second approach-and the one I wished I'd taken when I started blogging-is to stockpile your ideas before you blog. This takes a little more time, but it gives you a little more flexibility.


If you choose this, you'll need to do two things:


First, get to writing! You'll want to have as much content as possible when you officially start up your blog again. There's no hard-and-fast guideline here, but about 3-4 weeks of content will give you a huge advantage.


Second, create an editorial calendar to schedule your posts. I recommend reading this post from HubSpot that shows how you can use Google Calendar to set up your editorial calendar.


image03


Like I said, I wish I had taken this approach when I started blogging. There were many days when I was racking my brain for ideas, and a lot of them turned out to be crap.


But if you have the motivation to get out there and start right now, do it! The most important thing is to make a plan and stick to it.


3. Build (or rebuild) your audience


You may have heard this line repurposed from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”


But that's not true for blogging.


You have to build your blog and your audience.


You might have built an audience in the past. If you have, don't be shy about leveraging that. If you know who read your blog, drop them a line about your return. You can also go through your old blog's comments to see who was checking out your content.


And if you have an email list, that's even better. Send out an email saying “I'm back!” More than likely, those subscribers will be glad to flock to your new blog.


In fact, getting your audience involved is one of the best things you can do at this point. Ask for feedback, and use that to improve your new blog.


The blog team at Unbounce did exactly this. They took a 2-week hiatus and asked readers to send in their thoughts:


image04


Even a simple offer like this goes a long way in your readers' minds. So, if you've still got a list floating around, use it!


But what happens if you have no audience at all?


It's time to build one.


I'll describe a couple of my favorite methods here, but I highly recommend you check out Quick Sprout's Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience.


First, get a social media game plan. Lots of bloggers start out by relying on SEO, but the truth is that good SEO takes years to develop. Driving traffic through social media will help you out in the short run.


You can either buy ads or build your social profiles from the ground up. If you have the resources, I recommend a combination of both. Don't rely 100% on ads-get involved with the community and share value with others. That's how you'll get people to visit your site in droves.


Second, use outreach. Outreach happens when you contact people asking them to share, promote, or look at your posts.


Reach out to your own network initially. Since you have personal connections, you can be somewhat informal here.


Next, reach out to the big names in your field-the influencers. But here's the catch: In order to catch the attention of influencers, you'll need top-notch content.


One of my favorite techniques for creating top-notch content is the Skyscraper Technique. Basically, you take an existing blog post, improve upon it, and send it to influencers. (You can read more about this on Brian Dean's blog Backlinko.)


When you're contacting influencers, you'll need a solid email script. Here's a good one to use:


image05


Personalize this, and send it to your target influencers. If you've put some hard work into your post to make it an ultimate resource, you'll likely get some responses.


4. Do your research (again)


You might have done lots of research when you started blogging. Now, you need to do more research.


You want to be at the forefront of your niche. You need to know the latest trends and ideas so you don't fall behind.


Most importantly, take some time to size up your competition. What's changed over the years? What types of content are your competitors posting and why?


Use this information to find your angle. You have a few options here:



Whatever you decide, make sure your angle stands out in some way. You either need to be a super high-quality or a super unique resource (ideally, you should aim to be both).


5. Build your email list


There's a ton of truth behind the statement “it's all in the list.”


That's because an email list is hands-down the best way to grow and promote your blog.


Earlier, I mentioned that if you still have an email list from an old blog, you should use it. But you can't stop there. You have to build your list every day.


List building is a long-term process, so don't get discouraged early on. If you keep at it, you will see the results.


The best way to start is to optimize your site for capturing emails. Yes, that means popups! You might hate them, but they work.


You can have a full-screen popup like the one Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich uses:


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Or you can have a scrollbox like the one we use on Crazy Egg:


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Or you can use one of my favorite tools, Hello Bar:


screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-11-39-58-pm


There are a lot of options, so look around and choose carefully.


You should also consider creating a fantastic lead magnet to get more subscribers.


But I have to emphasize something here: a good lead magnet isn't enough. It should be so good that your subscribers would be shocked to see you giving it away.


Conclusion


Even if you gave up all hopes of creating a successful blog, it's not too late.


In fact, blogging is easier than ever. You'll still need to invest some serious time and money, but there are more resources available now than ever before.


If you make a plan and stick to it, you can build a huge audience like I did.


You want to know one of my secrets? I'm nobody special.


You're probably thinking, “Yeah, right, Mr. Huge Blogger.” But it's true. All I did was follow some simple rules that anyone can follow and use to succeed, and that includes you.


Now, it took me years to really succeed with blogging. But I didn't do everything right when I started out. In fact, I spent years recovering from some rookie mistakes I made.


But you don't have to fall into the same trap. You can get off to a strong start, do things the right way, and find blogging success a lot sooner.


So, if your blog is lying around collecting dust, pick it up and brush it off. You might be surprised at the results.


Are you going to start blogging again? Or for the first time?




Wednesday, 23 November 2016

6 Neuromarketing Hacks for Maximum Content Impact

What do humans and lab rats have in common?


We both have predictable behavior patterns and react similarly to the same psychological stimuli.


And while we humans are certainly more complex and sophisticated than lab rats, you can still pull the right levers and hit the right buttons with your content marketing to elicit the response you're looking for.


I would by no means consider myself an expert in psychology, but over the years, I've learned a lot about how the human mind works.


I've found out that nearly everyone is predictable to some degree.


By understanding a few key psychological insights, I'm able to better understand my audience and deliver content that clicks with them and maximizes my results.


What's the secret?


Neuromarketing.


What exactly is neuromarketing?


TechTarget defines this term as


“the study of how people's brains respond to advertising and other brand-related messages by scientifically monitoring brainwave activity, eye-tracking and skin response.”


It's basically a sexy word that you get by combining neuroscience (the branch of psychology that deals with the nervous system/brain) and marketing.


The idea is that using cognitive research findings allows marketers to do their jobs with greater efficiency and ultimately boost conversions and sales while providing an optimal user experience.


Although neuromarketing is a fairly new phenomenon (it began in the 1990s), it's gained a lot of momentum in the past 20+ years.


There are even academic institutions and publications that are devoting massive amounts of time and money to this type of research.


Of course, some people are skeptical because neuromarketing often goes against conventional wisdom.


But I've found it to be incredibly powerful once I started using it in my marketing.


Here are some specific neuromarketing hacks I recommend.


1. Appeal to your audience's emotions


As hard as we try to be logical and rational, we're all emotional beings to some extent.


There's just no getting around it.


If you can form an emotional connection with your audience, I can guarantee that your content will have a significant impact.


There's a particular quote I love from an article titled “The Feelings Economy.”


It goes like this:


In an oversupplied economy, customer feelings drive purchase decisions and profitability.


I think this really nails it. The brands that tend to thrive are the ones that are able to elicit the right emotions and hit the sweet spot.


How exactly do you appeal to your audience's emotions?


Well, you start by understanding which specific emotions on average generate the biggest response:


image00


According to research from OkDork and Buzzsumo, your best bet is to create content that evokes:



  • Awe

  • Laughter

  • Amusement

  • Joy


More specifically, I recommend using images and stories in your content to trigger these types of emotional responses.


That's because they're great at targeting the limbic system, which controls basic emotions.


2. Incorporate images of faces


You might have noticed that I use a lot of images of people's faces in my content.


Case in point:


image04


I also place an image of my own mug on my website:


image02


Why?


Because, as it turns out, there is power in facial expressions. It's basically the universal language.


Allow me to explain.


Say you're trying to interact with someone from a foreign country who speaks an entirely different language. Communicating with words is likely to be pointless.


What they're saying sounds like gibberish to you and vice versa.


But you can always understand facial cues.


In fact, that's how babies largely understand the world. Before they develop language, they primarily rely upon their parents' facial expressions and tone of voice to extract meaning.


The point I'm trying to make here is that the human brain has an innate ability to process facial cues, which makes images of people's faces ideal for conveying emotion.


Images can also help you establish trust.


Notice how Tim Ferriss's photo gives off the vibe that he knows his stuff and that signing up for his course should prove helpful:


image03


You can do yourself a big favor by weaving images of people into your content. Doing so can make your audience feel a certain emotion as well as perform a specific action.


3. Use colors to elicit emotion


What's another way to get your audience to feel a particular way?


Using the right colors.


Each color has a certain meaning, so using the color that matches the emotion you're looking to target can be highly advantageous.


Here are some examples of the meanings of color in the western world:


image05


The key is to identify the particular emotion, feeling, vibe you're going for and incorporate the relevant color(s) in your content.


I don't have enough time to adequately explain this topic to do it justice here. But I've covered it in depth before, and you can learn all about it via this resource.


4. Focus on relieving pain points


Conventional marketing wisdom says that showcasing the benefits of a product/service and ways it will improve your customer's life is the best way to go.


By explaining the positives, you can target the intrinsic pleasure-seeking part of the human brain.


But in my opinion, this isn't the best approach to take.


In one of my posts on Inc.com, I mention the fact that “neuromarketing experts say that the brain's pain avoidance response is almost three times stronger than the brain's pleasure seeking response.”


I also point out that neuromarketing expert Christophe Morin states that


…humans are pain-avoiding machines.


The bottom line here is that you're usually better off explaining how you can relieve a pain point than discussing the pleasures of using a product/service.


In other words, focusing on how you can eliminate a negative should have a bigger impact.


5. Capitalize on the law of reciprocity


Have you ever had someone do something really nice for you, even when they didn't have to, without asking for anything in return?


How did you feel toward them afterward?


The odds are good that you felt a sense of gratitude and probably wanted to consciously (or subconsciously) return the favor in some way.


This is the law of reciprocity at work.


At its core, the law of reciprocity explains why we feel indebted to someone when they do something for us.


This could be something as big as saving one's life or as small as giving away a copy of an e-book.


Much research has actually been performed on this topic.


In fact, a study back in 2002 explored how patrons tipped in restaurants. The researchers examined how people tipped under three types of scenarios:



  • Scenario 1 – Patrons received a small piece of candy with their check

  • Scenario 2 – They received a larger quantity of candy

  • Scenario 3 – They received no candy at all


The researchers found that “the gift of candy increased the average tip from 15 percent to just under 18 percent.”


Although this wasn't a dramatic increase, it definitely proves the law of reciprocity and that people feel indebted when you do something nice for them when you don't have to.


By offering your visitors something like a free trial, a free e-book, a free online course, etc., you can expect more conversions in the long run.


6. Use scarcity as leverage


We humans have some interesting tendencies and preferences.


If there's less of something, our desire for it increases. If there's more of something, our desire for it diminishes.


This phenomenon is known as the scarcity effect.


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A now-classic psychological study from 1975 conducted by Worchel, Lee and Adewole examined the effect of scarcity on people.


It was a very simple study involving cookies, but it was very telling nonetheless.


The researchers “put 10 cookies in one jar and two of the same cookies in another jar. The cookies from the two-cookie jar received higher ratings-even though the cookies were exactly the same!”


What does this mean from a marketing standpoint?


It means that you're far more likely to maximize your impact by leveraging scarcity. For instance, you might say that there's a limited time offer on a product/service, or you may have a sale that only lasts 24 hours, etc.


That, right there, can increase a person's urge to buy significantly.


Conclusion


Neuromarketing is legit and something I've found to be incredibly powerful in regards to content marketing.


Besides making it easier to build trust and rapport and generally connect better with your audience, neuromarketing is often the catalyst for increased leads and conversions.


And the hacks I covered here are just the tip of the iceberg. There's ongoing research being conducted to better understand the psychology behind marketing and what resonates with consumers.


By putting these tips to practice, you can make your content marketing more potent and get more bang for your buck.


Can you think of any other psychological principles that can help you level up your content marketing?




Monday, 21 November 2016

9 Ways to Generate Sales from Your Last Blog Post (Without Being Salesy)

These days, “sales” is perceived as a negative four-letter word.


Sales has gotten a bad rep. When you hear the word “sales,” you probably think of pushy salespeople or telemarketing calls.


The stigma of sales affects bloggers too. Lots of bloggers are afraid to sell to their readers. They don't want to lose the audience they worked so hard to build.


Well, I'm here to tell you that you can successfully use your blog posts to sell without being salesy.


And no, I'm not going to recommend ads. (Surprise!)


You might be wondering how blog posts can increase your revenue.


The answer is simple: reciprocity.


Most of you have probably heard about reciprocity from Dr. Robert Cialdini's renowned book Influence. It talks about psychological triggers that make people respond in certain ways.


Reciprocity happens when you give immense value to your audience. In return, they feel compelled to help you out. In our case, that happens when they buy from you.


It's a simple formula. If your blog posts are top-notch, your readers will be open to buying from you. But they're not just “buying.” They're supporting a resource they love.


And when you pair reciprocity with blogging, the results are powerful. You'll sell, but your readers will never think you're selling to them. It's a friendly offer.


I know, it sounds too good to be true. Let me prove it to you with these 9 ways of using your latest blog post to generate sales.


1. Provide a ton of value


Value should be your number one priority as a blogger. I'll even go a step further and say that it's impossible to run a truly great blog without providing a crap ton of real value.


But can you sell based on value alone?


It's a good question. So let's look at what happens when you take price out of the equation.


Tom Morkes had a blog that people really liked, but he realized it wasn't profitable. So he wrote an e-book and released it to a whopping 166 subscribers. Don't laugh yet-the results will astound you.


Tom chose a pay-what-you-want method so his readers would have a choice. And lots of his readers chose a price of $0.


But Tom's readers contributed an average of $15 per e-book. And he made an impressive $493.50 in the first month by offering something free.


See the numbers for yourself:


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This is a fantastic case study to show just how well value can sell. If you have immensely valuable content, you can sell like crazy even if you offer it free.


2. Link to a relevant product


Linking to one of your products is a simple but effective strategy for getting eyeballs to your storefront.


But here's the catch: you have to share a relevant product.


If your blog post is about making the best pumpkin pie and you include a link to your guide to wine tasting, the conversion rate won't be very high. That's because your readers are there for the pumpkin pie.


But if you share a link to your guide to pumpkin-pie-making with those same readers, you'll see much better results.


Here's Carol Tice from Make A Living Writing using this strategy:


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To give you some context, Carol's post is about a freelancing scam. By sharing this product at the end of the blog post, she's letting readers in on a surefire method of revenue.


Solve your readers' problems by sharing relevant products with them, and you'll make their day.


3. Describe an insanely valuable use of your product


It makes sense why no one would want to buy your product unless they saw its benefits.


So don't beat around the bush-show off your products' benefits.


But it's important that you're not just praising your product as the best thing since sliced bread. You have to give readers specific, detailed reasons why your product is great.


MailChimp does this excellently. Their post “Why Clients Render Email Differently” mentions their Inbox Preview feature, but it doesn't read like an advertisement for that feature.


Instead, it talks about the similarities and differences in email clients that readers should be aware of.


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This part is crucial: You can get value from this article even if you don't buy their product.


Your blog post should still be value-packed. You're simply letting your readers know that your product provides a shortcut to the results they want.


In other words, don't dangle your product in front of your readers' faces and say, “You have to buy this to get anything good.” Give them the good stuff in the post itself.


4. Blog about your customers


Sharing your customers' experiences with your product can work wonders. Your readers get to see how your product is benefiting real people, and they'll become more interested without feeling pressured.


TOMS does this with its “Locals Who Give Back” blog post series. Each post profiles a TOMS customer who is making a difference in their local community.


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Don't worry-you don't have to be TOMS to do this effectively.


All you have to do is make heroes out of your customers. Listen to ordinary people's stories, and broadcast them to your audience. Your readers will instantly connect with these stories, and that means they'll connect more with your brand.


5. Do affiliate marketing (the right way)


There's a reason why tried-and-true methods are tried-and-true. Affiliate marketing is no exception.


But you know what I can't stand? When bloggers try to hide the fact that they're using affiliate links.


If your readers really love your blog, they'll be more than happy to help you out by buying something they were already interested in anyway.


Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income has two great rules for affiliate marketing:


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Don't be an intrusive salesperson who hawks products to their readers. Be your readers' friend, and recommend products that will improve their lives.


6. Fix a problem


People will always have problems, and they will always want to fix those problems. That's where you come in.


By fixing your readers' problems with your blog posts, you're earning their trust. Eventually, they'll want to check out what you have to offer.


SumoMe does this by regularly posting monster guides that cover a subject exhaustively. And if you look at their articles (like this guide on content upgrades), you'll see they go over everything. They leave no stone unturned.


But you don't have to write thousands of words to fix problems-shorter can work too. No matter the approach you choose, make sure you're thorough when fixing your readers' problems. Don't give them a temporary duct tape fix-give them a long-term remedy.


7. Give away a preview


You know what the trouble with a lot of products is? They're all talk. Any product can sound great with a well-written description.


But if you know you've got something good, give your readers a free preview. Let them in on the action so they can see for themselves just how great your product is.


If you have a subscription service, give your readers a free trial. If you have an e-book, give away the first chapter.


Here's my challenge to you: Give away more than you think you should.


When Seth Godin released his book Permission Marketing, instead of just giving away one chapter, he offered the first four chapters free. (And the offer still stands!) That free preview didn't stop the book from creating a legacy with marketers all over the world.


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And make sure your free preview is packed with good stuff. Don't give away a limited free trial or an introduction. Give your readers the good stuff, and when there's no more free content, they'll likely pay for more.


8. Hold a contest


No one can resist the offer of something free. You can leverage this by holding a contest on your blog.


You're probably thinking, “How can I generate sales if I'm giving something free?”


This is how. Contests help you grow your audience and build interest in your brand. After a successful contest, you'll have a lot more people to share your products with.


To get the best results with your contest, go social. For example, use Rafflecopter to give extra entries to people who perform certain social actions, such as liking and sharing your page:


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(Bonus tip: You can also use contests to get tons of user-generated content.)


9. Give your readers an exclusive deal


Every time your readers make the choice to check out your latest post, they're investing their time in your work. By giving your audience an exclusive deal, you're thanking them and giving back.


Don't make the offer public anywhere else. Make it a readers-only deal, and say so. You want your readers to feel special.


Conclusion


Selling doesn't have to leave you feeling slimy.


When you do it right, selling equals helping your readers. Only promote products you know will improve your readers' lives.


After you've been blogging and interacting with readers for a while, you'll realize it's a small community. These people aren't facts and figures. They're humans with problems that need to be solved, and you can help.


It's all about helping. If you're focused on providing value, the selling part becomes a lot easier.


Your readers want to support you. All you have to do is ask.


How do you use your blog to generate sales?




Saturday, 19 November 2016

How to Spice Up Your B2B Blog if It's Mind-Numbingly Boring

Feel like something's missing on your blog?


Maybe it's your font…


Maybe your theme…


Or could it be your logo?


While most B2B bloggers focus on improving minutiae, the truth is their content is just plain boring.


As a B2B owner who engages in online marketing, you were probably told that a blog would propel your company to the top of the search engine results pages.


Little did you know, however, how tricky it would be to come up with engaging blog posts on a regular basis.


People often assume that trade blogs are dry and uninteresting by their very nature. That isn't-and shouldn't be-the case.


After all, who will keep coming back to your blog if they're bored to tears whenever they visit?


Luckily, there are plenty of easy ways to spice things up.


Here are 25 useful tips to turn your B2B blog into something that delivers the returns you deserve. It's never too late to make your B2B blog an effective part of your online marketing strategy.


In fact, I'm bursting with ideas for making industry blogs more dynamic and engaging. Here are my 25 best tips:


1. Use a talented writer


I can't emphasize this one enough: Whoever writes for your blog should be an innately talented writer.


Moreover, they should actually enjoy writing, and their enthusiasm should shine through in their work.


It's plainly obvious when an industry blog has been written by someone who lacks the necessary writing chops.


Even if you must pay for it, make sure your content is penned-or typed, as it were-by someone who can truly do it justice.


2. Write in the first person


Blogs are meant to be personal. Readers want connect with the human being, not the letters on a screen.


Start with a simple introduction that explains who you are and why you're qualified to talk on the topic.


It's okay to sprinkle in a bit of humor if you like, but not necessary.


Whatever you do, avoid the impersonal third-person writing style, which looks like this:


“[Company Name] has made several advancements in recent years.”


Instead, stick with the first person, which switches the example above to the following:


“We have made many advancements in recent years.”


Feel free to use the second person too by addressing readers as “you” from time to time.


3. Convey authoritative industry knowledge


If you decide to run a B2B blog, it should revolve heavily around your industry. The more niche you make it, the better off you will be.


With that in mind, stay abreast of the latest industry happenings, and touch upon important topics as they arise.


Stay in the loop about the latest news and trends concerning your industry, and pay attention to what thought leaders in your industry are doing and saying.


This will have you jumping out of your seat with new, creative ideas.


4. Let your personality shine through


Industry blogs are often stifled by the notion that they should be formal and professional at all times. The result is stilted, dull language and bland, uninspired content.


Go ahead and let your personality shine through in your blog. It'll make it more fun to write, and your readers will appreciate it too.


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5. Don't overthink it


Because a B2B blog represents your company, it's natural to want each blog post to be absolutely perfect.


However, editing it to within an inch of its life won't do you any favors.


While posts should be proofread prior to publication, don't fret over every last thing.


That's a surefire way to sap your creative energy and to start hating everything about running your blog.


6. Keep it niche


To broaden their horizons a little, B2B owners often stray from their niches to cover completely unrelated topics.


This may make it easier to brainstorm new ideas, but it has the negative effect of alienating your audience.


Readers will turn to you for specialized information, so give it to them.


Padding your blog with posts covering random topics does more harm than good in the long run.


7. Skip posts about blog or website updates


To you, updates to your blog or website are probably pretty exciting.


Trust me, though: no one else cares. Sharing such news in your blog only shows that you are completely out of ideas.


If you find yourself tempted to share news about technical updates, sit down and start over. Better ideas can and will come to you-I promise.


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Source: Quickmeme.com


8. Be prophetic


Be like Nostradamus from time to time by making predictions about the direction of your industry.


It may feel a bit risky-will readers come back and call you out if you turn out to be wrong?-but it's a great way to expand your horizons when coming up with new topics to cover.


You don't need a crystal ball to make this work.


Just stay informed about your industry and share educated predictions with your audience.


9. Express emotion


A big reason for running out of writing inspiration is feeling like you must hold in your emotions.


Here's the thing: Readers appreciate it when you do, and it makes your content a lot more relatable.


Go ahead and express how you feel about stuff from time to time. For example, are you excited about that upcoming trade show, or are you dreading it?


Expressing your emotions should open up many new possibilities for spicing up your blog.


10. Share inside stories


Let readers in on how your company operates by occasionally sharing inside stories about interesting happenings.


Giving them a glimpse “behind the curtain” will keep them engaged and give you a lot more interesting fodder for your blog.


For example, in the weeks leading up to an important product launch, create posts about how the company is preparing.


When important new employees come on board, share the news.


11. Be personable but professional


Writing blog posts is much easier when you keep it personable. Still, because it represents your company, your blog should maintain an adequate level of professionalism.


Spice up blog posts with occasional quips about how you're thinking or feeling about certain topics. Write as if you are having a face-to-face conversation.


Everything else will fall into place from there.


12. Go in-depth


All too often, B2B blogs merely skim the surface of the topics that matter to their audiences. Generic, fluffy posts are easy to churn out, to be sure, but they leave a lot to be desired.


Your industry blog will be far more compelling when you delve deeply into topics from time to time. If you're worried about holding your audience's interest through such topics, create a series of posts to break things up into digestible chunks.


This has the added bonus of keeping your readers coming back for more.


13. Interview people


I know, you're not a journalist.


However, getting out there and interviewing important people in your industry is a great way to come up with interesting topics for your blog.


Of course, you don't have to literally interview people face to face.


Through email and social media, you should be able to conduct at least occasional interviews that will give you all kinds of blog fodder.


14. Add images and other types of media


Internet users dislike being presented with walls of text.


A great way to enhance your industry blog is to sprinkle it with relevant images, videos, and other media.


Get a subscription to a stock photography service to ensure you have plenty of options at your disposal.


Include your own photos, videos, and other creations too to keep your audience engaged.


15. Load posts with facts and data


Online, you can find statistics and other data about virtually any topic under the sun.


Fill your posts with data from reliable sources to make it more engaging and useful.


Don't stop there, though. Share statistics and other data regarding your business and industry too. In other words, be your own source.


16. Become an expert


Since you own a B2B, you are surely very knowledgeable about topics that relate to your industry.


Kick things up a notch by focusing your attention on a very niche area, and learn everything you can about it.


By becoming an authority on a particular subject, you will be swimming with ideas that matter to your audience.


As you learn new things, additional ideas will spring to mind more easily.


17. Write listicles


A B2B blog needn't be stodgy or overly prim and proper (in fact, quite the opposite).


Like Buzzfeed does, create posts in a list format, publishing listicles from time to time.


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Listicles are easy to write and fun to read even if they are written on dry topics.


18. Tackle tough topics


B2B blogs tend to shy away from especially difficult topics.


Getting to the bottom of something that tends to stump people who rely on your products or services requires a lot of work, but it also gives you incredible ammunition for generating interesting blog posts.


Zero in on issues nobody seems to be trying to resolve, and commit yourself to solving them.


Whether you're successful or not, share your findings with your audience.


19. Share memes 🙂


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Source: memegenerator.net


I don't care how niche your B2B business is-there are sure to be plenty of pertinent memes out there regarding it.


Dig them up, and share them on your blog from time to time. Provide commentary regarding the meme to keep your blog plugging along.


If you strike out and can't find many memes, create your own.


There are tons of apps for this, so there's no excuse for not giving it a go!


20. Don't promote constantly


Yes, you primarily write on your B2B blog to promote your business.


However, constantly posting overtly promotional posts is not the way to go.


Tooting your own horn from time to time is fine, but don't let that become the overriding theme of your entire blog.


Your audience will be bored to tears, and they'll probably be annoyed to boot.


21. Share findings from surveys and polls


Use apps and widgets to quickly and easily survey clients and prospects. Share the results, and comment on them in your posts.


Don't be afraid to seek out surveys and polls from other sources too.


Even if they are not very recent, they will probably be interesting to your audience, and creating posts around them is fun and easy.


22. Be empathetic


On the one hand, you want to come across as an authority in your industry.


On the other hand, though, you want to connect with your audience to keep them engaged.


You can't do that without showing a little empathy here and there.


When the situation warrants it, use phrases such as “…like many B2B owners…,” “…I know how it is…,” and “…I see that all the time…” to show your audience you understand them and to give your posts more personality.


23. Tie posts to current events when applicable


If a newsworthy event impacts your industry-even if only tangentially-go ahead and write an article about it.


On social media, this has the added bonus of potentially having your post appear in trending topic feeds.


Don't go too far, though. You may find yourself trying to tie every current event to your industry, and that just won't fly.


When it makes sense to do so, however, this tactic can work wonders.


24. Tie related topics together


Write crossover blog posts that tie seemingly disparate ideas together from time to time.


For example, let's say you run a business that provides uniforms to the hospitality industry.


You spend time marketing your business too, so why not write a post that explains how the right uniforms can enhance your marketing efforts?


This is great because it subtly promotes your products while allowing you to showcase your expertise in a whole new way.


25. Go there


The vast majority of industry blogs give controversy of any kind a wide berth.


This is generally a wise move, but rocking the boat a little here and there wouldn't be the end of the world either.


Go ahead and “go there” regarding the proverbial elephant in the room from time to time.


Get stuff off your chest. Just make sure to stay tactful and professional while doing so.


Conclusion


As you can see, B2B blogs tend to be dry and boring due to preconceived notions about how B2Bs should express themselves online.


While your blog shouldn't come across as careless and sloppy, it shouldn't be formal to the point of complete dullness either.


Commit the above tips to memory, and keep them in mind to transform your B2B blog from one that's mind-numbingly boring to one that's absolutely fascinating.


Be honest: Would you voluntarily read your own B2B blog?