Beyond The Boost Post Button: A Business Bloggers Guide To Facebook Advertising
Beyond The Boost Post Button: A Business Bloggers Guide To Facebook Advertising

Do Facebook ads work? Should you be using them to drive traffic to your blog posts? How much do they cost? That’s what we’ll look at in this Facebook ads guide for bloggers.



The problem with Facebook

I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. I love the way it keeps me in touch with my old friends and helps me make new ones. I hate that it’s become so hard to market on it.

I get it, I really do. There are so many businesses on Facebook flogging their stuff that if there was no algorithm to hold us back it would resemble a free ads newspaper.

People, me included go to Facebook to talk to people, to friends and colleagues and be a part of their lives. Our business posts are just getting in the way.

So although the algorithm means that my posts reach a fraction of the audience I’ve built over the years I’m willing to forgive Facebook. They do after all have their customers, their real customers the every day users at the heart of their decision making. Without their massive user-base they’d struggle to make money.

If I was Facebook’s business consultant I’d be telling them they were doing a good job.

Like many businesses who know the Facebook is a valuable tool but are suffering from the tragic reach I advertise. I advertise to reach the right people with my posts, I advertise to build my brand, my list my readerships and sales.

In this post I’m going to share with you a basic guide to using Facebook ads. I’m going to share my process, results and mistakes.

Going beyond the boost post button

Blog visitors are like magazine readers. Some will read the whole thing from cover to cover, others will read a few select articles others will have a flick through whilst in a waiting room or in a queue.

Our goal as business bloggers is to make sure the next time any of these readers see our magazine they pick it up. Eventually we’ll buy their loyalty with our content and they’ll become loyal and subscribe.

It’s easy to click the boost button underneath your posts but this button is designed to boost engagements on your posts. People will take a look at the cover of your magazine and smile but they won’t look inside. If you want them to open and start reading you’ll need to delve deeper into Facebook ads and you’ll need a plan.


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The big question

As with any plan you need to start with the big question.

What is your goal?

We’ve established we want people to click through to our websites or to follow the magazine analogy open the cover but what’s our goal beyond that?

  • Do we want to build up our email list?
  • Get people to keep coming back to our site?
  • Build an audience of readers that you can sell to later on?
  • Do you want to build your online brand as a source of good information?

Once you know the answer to the big question you can start putting together your advertising plan.

Audiences

Who do you want to reach?

There are many ways to build an audience on Facebook. The type of audience you select can have a dramatic effect on the success and price of your ad.

Some Facebook users are going to be more invested in what you do than others.

Retargeting with Website Custom Audiences

If you shop on Amazon or book accommodation on Booking.com you’ve probably noticed that once you’ve visited their sites or viewed specific pages they seem to follow you around the internet.

They do this using cookies and the Facebook pixel. This is a bit of code that you add to the head section of your website that builds an audience of Facebook users from your website visitors.

You don’t have to go full on Stalker like Amazon does but you can use this audience to encourage repeat visits. If they’ve read your previous blog post but not your current one you can ask Facebook to put your latest post in front of them.

It’s like putting the latest issue of your magazine in a shop display. They read the last issue, when they see the latest cover you can attract them again.

These existing readers are aware of your business and content so theoretically they should be cheaper to convert to clicks on your newest post. It doesn’t always work that way as I’ll reveal later on.

Reaching the people who like your page

The people who already like your Facebook page are also a warm audience. At some point they clicked that Like button so they are interested. If you push your latest blog post out to them it gives them the opportunity to re-engage with your content.

These people haven’t read your magazine before but they are familiar with your title and branding so a good cover could entice them to read.

Targeting page engagers

Facebook recently introduced a new audience type, the ‘Page engagement’ audience. This is made up of the people who have interacted with your page or content in the last year. Targeting these people with your new content could be a good way to get them to re-engage.

These people are more committed than just the people who Like your page. They’ve had a taster of what you do already. They may have picked up a copy of your magazine off the shelf but not read it through.

Targeting your email subscribers

You can target people on your email opt-in list. These people have gone one step further than visiting a page on your website or Liking your Facebook page. They have filled in a form showing they are interested in what you do, agreeing to receive more information from you.

These are your magazine subscribers, they may not read every issue but they’re interested enough to want regular personal communications from you.

If you are smart with your list building (see episode 66 on building better email subscribers with lead incentives) the majority of the people on your email opt-in will be strong leads and potential customers. Using Facebook ads you can reach them again even if they don’t open your emails.

Lookalike audiences

For all the different custom audiences I’ve described above you can create ‘Lookalike audiences’. These are Facebook users that are similar to the people in your original audience.

These audiences will never be as good as warm audiences but they can help boost the number of people you reach if you find your existing audiences are too small.

Interest targeting

Finally you can go in cold and target people who may never have heard of your magazine before but fit your ideal reader profile.

Facebook interest targeting can be extremely effective at reaching a brand new audience. Instinctively this won’t be as strong an audience as the others as they haven’t encountered you before. If you can find a big enough sample you can make it work. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my cold targeting.

Targeting cats and dogs

One trick that many advertisers miss is that you can target people who like one thing and another thing. People who like Cats and Dogs.

Targeting people who like cats AND dogs
Targeting people who like cats AND dogs

By default when you add interests to your audience you are targeting people who like Cats or Dogs. See below.

Targeting people who like cats OR dogs
Targeting people who like cats OR dogs

Go large

I used to believe small audiences offered better results on Facebook ads but I’ve learned that bigger is actually better. Only a small portion of people on Facebook click ads, if you aren’t targeting warm audiences it’s worth throwing the net wide and seeing who bites.

Using multiple audiences

You don’t have to choose just one of these options. For each post I promote on Facebook I create three audiences.

1. Website custom audience (excluding people who like my page)
2.Page Likes audience (excluding members of my website custom audience)
3. Interest based cold audience

Which works best? Keep reading and I’ll tell you.

Setting the objective

I talked vaguely about goals at the beginning of this post. Whichever goal you chose you can chose a Facebook ad objective that aligns with it.

As we’re talking blog posts here I’m going to stick with three key ad types:

  • Boost post (page post engagement)
  • Website clicks (people who click the link to your blog post)
  • Conversions (people who take an action like filling a form or reach checkout on your site)

All three of these ad types can be applied to your blog posts shared on Facebook

Here’s the thing, depending on which objective you chose, Facebook will show your ad to a different group of people.

  • If you chose a Boost Post objective Facebook shows your ad to people it knows are more likely to click the Like button or comment.
  • If you choose the ‘Website clicks’ objective Facebook will show it to people who are most likely to click the link.
  • If you choose the Conversions ad type it will be shown to the people most likely to convert.

If you want people to read your blog you need to abandon the boost post button and create your ads in ad manager.

If you want to optimise for conversions you’re going to need to do a bit of magic with that Facebook pixel I mentioned earlier. This is probably something you are going to need your web developer to do.

How much will it cost?

Now you know the type of ad you want to run and who you want to target the final decision is your budget.

The minimum cost for a boost post ad is €1 per day. For a website clicks ad it’s €5 per day.

I spend a minimum of €10 per week on boosting one post.

Your cost per click will vary depending on who you are targeting, where they live, the time of year and the industry you are in.

When you buy Facebook ads you set a daily or lifetime budget. Facebook will spend that the best it can and you’ll see afterwards what it cost per click, engagement or conversion.

It’s only after you have run a campaign that you will have a CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) to benchmark yourself against

For more on pricing read this post from Buffer.

You’re ready to create your ads

I have to take my hat off to Facebook, they have made the ad creation process really user-friendly.

The one thing that may not be obvious is the structure of a Facebook ad campaign. Before I share my process and results with you I just wanted to give you the basics.

Facebook ads are structured a bit like a tree:

  • The campaign is the trunk of the tree – It defines the objective of the ads you want to run (engagement, website click, conversions)
  • The branches of the tree are ad sets – Each ad set can have its own budget, schedule and audience.
  • The leaves that grow on each branch are the ads. – Each ad can have its own creative elements, images videos and text.
Facebook ad structure
Facebook ad structure

Facebook will automatically split test the ads within the ads set and use the ones that produce the best results widely.

My method

When I promote my blog posts I Have one campaign the objective is website clicks

In that campaign I have three ad sets, each one reaches a different audience:

1. Website vistiors
2. Page likers
3. Interest based audience

Each one of those ad sets contains one ad (although best practice would be to have at least three). I use my Facebook page post as the ad in all cases.

Right so that’s the theory. Lets look at the results

I’ve been analysing the results of my website clicks ads since the beginning of the year and I have to say I’m surprised.

CPM (Cost per 1,000 impressions)

The audience it’s cheapest for me to reach is my page likers. They cost me an avearge of €1.80 per 1000 impressions. I pay twice that to reach my interest audience and three times that to reach my Website custom audience.

Facebook ad results - CPM (Cost Per Impression)
Facebook ad results – CPM (Cost Per Impression)

CPC (Cost per click)

When I look at my cost per click the Interest audience wins with an average CPC of just 17c. In second place it’s my Website custom audience at a massive 47c per click and lagging behind is my Likers at 51c per click. That’s three times the cost of my interest audience.

Facebook ad results - CPC (Cost Per Click)
Facebook ad results – CPC (Cost Per Click)

Conclusions

Does this mean you should ignore everything I said about warm audiences?

No, I don’t think so, I’d like to offer a different conclusion:

  1. I’m not excluding the post I’m promoting when I target my website custom audience. This means that many who see the ad may already have seen it.
  2. A lot of my website visitors will be reading posts that aren’t relevant to the latest post I’m sharing. I need to target interests within my website audience rather than a one size fits all approach.
  3. I’m targeting really well at my interest audience.

I’m going to keep experimenting with this. I’m also going to be running some lead gen and conversion ads shortly. It will be interesting to measure those results against the theory too.

Challenge

If you haven’t started using Facebook ads to target your audience yet give it a try. It’s a great way to get exactly the right people to read your blog posts

Do what I’ve done and split test your audiences, work out the ones that are working and hone the ones that aren’t.

 

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Beyond The Boost Post Button: A Business Bloggers Guide To Facebook Advertising
Beyond The Boost Post Button: A Business Bloggers Guide To Facebook Advertising
How To Be Remembered - Made To Stick by Chip And Dan Heath
How To Be Remembered – Made To Stick by Chip And Dan Heath

This month’s business book club review is ‘Made To Stick’ by Chip & Dan Heath.

Are you memorable? Do people remember what you say, what you post on your blog and on social media? Does your content inspire action?

As much as we like to think people hang on our every word and are enthused by what we say and write we’re probably missing the mark.

That’s the issue that Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath (affiliate) addresses. It outlines a formula for judging and creating ideas that will ‘Stick’. Ideas that people will remember and act on.

I picked up a copy of this book after seeing Stacy MacNaught speak at the Learn Inbound conference. She recommended it as inspiration for coming up with better ideas.

The book opens with a familiar story. An urban legend about a man being drugged in a bar by a beautiful woman and waking up in a bath full of ice missing a kidney.

This story is unforgettable, it may change each time it’s told but the core of the story stays the same. We remember it. Why? It’s sticky, it scores well on Chip and Dan Heath’s SUCCESs checklist. It’s this checklist that is the core of the book.

The SUCCESs framework

We like to think that we’ll be remembered, that our audiences hang on our every word but it’s not that easy. Why don’t people store the information we give them? How could they forget our words of wisdom?

There are lots of reasons. We suffer from the ‘Curse of knowledge’. Once we know and understand something we assume others do too. We fail to frame our ideas in a way that is relatable to our audience and we fail to be simple.

The SUCCESs framework is a simple checklist we can apply to our ideas that will help us tell them in a way that will be remembered.

Here are the basics of that framework.

S – Simple

Our ideas should be simple to tell. Complexity is the enemy.

Start with the heart of your idea. What one thing are you trying to do with your content or communication? Knowing the answer will make it easier to build ideas that are memorable.

Communicating that core idea is easier if you can tie it into ‘schema’, something your audience are already familiar with.

As they illustrate in the book. The pomelo fruit is easier to picture if it’s compared to a grapefruit than if it’s described on it’s attributes of size, colour, texture and think skin alone.

In the case of the pomelo the grapefruit is the schema.

U – Unexpected

People expect certain things to happen in a certain way. When we disrupt that our audiences surprise makes the idea stick.

The authors suggest we use knowledge gaps. Instead of giving answers straight away pose a question, hint at the answer along the way but don’t reveal it until the end. It’s the pursuit of the answer that will embed your idea in the audience’s mind.

C – Concrete

When our audience can actually picture something we have a better chance of being memorable. Using a visual cue whether it’s a person or a prop adds focus.

This also ties into our schema. When a businessman tried to sell the idea he had for a laptop computer he was able to illustrate it by throwing his briefcase onto the table and telling the panel that the computer would be the same size.

This gave the idea a focal point. Now the audience could begin to imagine it.

C – Credibility

This is perhaps the hardest part of the checklist to attain. Credibility usually comes with experience and being known. But there are ways you can hack it.

We can embellish our communications with vivid detail. It doesn’t have to be detail that reinforces our point, we can wrap our ideas in story and description. Studies referenced in the book show that any vivid detail can make our idea seem more credible.

Statistics also reinforce our credibility but if we want them to stick we have to find a way to make our stats tangible. Instead of quoting large numbers look at ways you can relate those numbers to the real world. Stuff that people can picture.

For example, if I told you that you’d spend 27,375 hours (approx) of our lives eating food that’s a pretty unimaginable figure. It’s not tangible.

If I changed the frame of reference from hours to years and told you that you spend 3 1/2 years of our lives eating you’d probably relate to the statistic better. You can imagine what 3 1/2 years is like.  It’s the same statistic presented in a more tangible way.

Even better if you can relate your statistic to something physical.

I doubt if I told you flushing the toilet could take up to six gallons of water you’d be able to picture that (particularly if you live in the UK or Ireland). If I told you that you were flushing away ten pints, you might find it easier to picture those ten pints lined up at the bar. Because you can picture it you’re more likely to remember it.

E – Emotional

As a marketer you are well aware of the power of emotion. If you can make your audience feel you will get a result.

But we need to think beyond raw emotion. Instead we should aim to create content that buys into our audiences sense of identity.

What forms their identity? What do ‘people like them’ do? If we want to be persuasive we have to come up with ideas that reinforce their sense of identity.

The book describes a Texas anti-litter campaign. Being told litter was bad was having no effect. Being told not to be a litter bug wasn’t working. What did work was getting well-known Texans to share the tagline ‘Texans don’t litter’. It tapped into the state’s pride and identity and it worked.

S – Stories

Wrapping our ideas in a story makes them relatable and memorable. Stories demonstrate to us how we should act and react, they inspire us.

The book tells us the story of Jared the Subway dieter who managed to loose life-threatening weight just by eating Subway sandwiches. His story changed his life and made a real difference to the bottom line of Subway.

Compare that to their previous campaign promoting their low cal sandwiches and it’s easy to see that the story worked better.

Should you buy Made To Stick?

Since I opened this book I’ve started seeing better ideas around me. I’ve started applying the checklist to marketing campaigns and content I’m consuming. It’s beginning to change the way I think about the content I produce and I’m hoping that by applying the SUCCESs techniques will make my content become more powerful.

It’s written in a way that reinforces the structure. It’s a persuasive book, the ideas it shares are sticky. It’s a great advertisement for itself.

It’s a short read but one that will stick in your head and as a result should improve the power of your marketing messages.

 

 

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How To Be Remembered - Made To Stick by Chip And Dan Heath
How To Be Remembered – Made To Stick by Chip And Dan Heath
How To Create YouTube Thumbnails That Get Your Videos Clicked
How To Create YouTube Thumbnails That Get Your Videos Clicked

What’s the one thing that will make people click play on your YouTube video more than your competitors? If you said thumbnail image I think you’re right.

Your YouTube thumbnail is the image that accompanies your video when it appears in search results, on your channel and when it’s embedded. Make it enticing and it could be your video people watch even above the top result.

If you’ve optimised your video already you need to look at those thumbnails.

YouTube Thumbnails – Getting started

You’ve probably seen the thumbnail options that appear at the bottom of your screen when you upload a video. YouTube will auto generate these little screen grabs from your video. They’re OK but they’re rarely ideal. It’s as if YouTube pick the worst possible grabs, you’ll be gurning, your tongue will be out or they’ll have picked the frame where you can’t see anything.

Luckily there’s another option. The customised image. Here you can upload your own image. One that tells people more about what to expect.

Finding inspiration

If I’ve convinced you that you should replace those horrible automated thumbnails what should you do next?

Before you start creating thumbnails do a search on YouTube for keywords you are hoping to rank for. Which videos jump out to you and make you want to click?

It’s also worth asking your audience. Take a screen grab and ask your followers on Facebook or Twitter which would make them want to click. What appeals to you might not be what appeals to them.

Although different styles of thumbnail will appeal to different people there are some tactics you can use that will make your video stand out.

1. What’s the star of your video?

Are you the star of the show? If you are then your thumbnail needs to include a photo of you. A friendly face is more clickable than an inanimate object.

Before you select an image of yourself remember that your thumbnail should meet the expectation of your audience.

For a consumer or small business audience that gurning face that YouTube offers you as a thumbnail could well be the best choice. Take a screenshot and use it as the basis of your thumb. A more serious video aimed at corporate businesses should include a more sedate, posed image.

If you aren’t the star of the show who or what is? Is it a tutorial? A how to? A recipe? If so perhaps it’s the finished product that is the hero. Make sure you get a good quality shot of the finished product that you can use as part of the thumbnail.

2. Add text

You can’t rely on people reading the title of your video. Use text overlay to ensure they can see what the video is about.

According to YouTube more than 1/2 of views come from mobile so it’s pretty crucial that the text on your thumbnail works when it’s scaled down. In this case, big is definitely better.

3. High contrast

Saturated colours and high contrast images also have a stronger visual impact on YouTube. Experiment with different colours and find one that works for you.

So far it’s looking like I’ve got a lot of work to do. Luckily there is one thing I’m getting right.

4. Add your branding

Your video thumbnails should be consistent with your brand and your channel. Are you using the same colours and fonts each time? Do they match your branding elsewhere? Are you including your logo?

Creating your thumbnail

Up until I started researching this post I’ve been winging it with my thumbnails. I’ve got a template and I use it for everything but it’s not hitting the mark on YouTube.

My Facebook Live videos (uploaded to YouTube) in particular have been relying on the suggestions that YouTube offers.

It’s time for a change so I decided I’d try three tools and see which produced the best results fast.

I started with a screen grab from my most recent show and a title.

PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a popular tool with YouTubers (affiliate link). It’s one I’ve been using for years and they’ve made some improvements recently. I use the ‘Royale’ version which costs €66 per year.

I uploaded my screengrab, cropped it to the correct size for a YouTube thumbnail (1280 x 720 pixels). Added a filter, a text overlay and a background for the text.

The nice thing about PicMonkey is it allows you to have layered images. You can add text, overlays, images and even draw on your photo and move them around as necessary. If you are a Photoshop user this will all seem very familiar to you.

PicMonkey also lets you add drop shadows to your text with the click of a button. Something the other tools doesn’t offer.

This is the result:

Thumbnail created in PicMonkey
Thumbnail created in PicMonkey

Adobe Spark

Next up was Adobe Spark. I use this a lot on my phone but this time I thought I’d try the web app.

Adobe Spark has built-in YouTube templates which means no resizing was required. There are templates and layouts that you can flick through until you find something that matches your brand.

It’s quicker to use than PicMonkey but you have a very limited amount of filters available and I wasn’t able to customise the colour scheme to my brand colours.

On the up side it’s extremely quick to create a thumbnail. You’ll have something decent in less than a minute.

Here’s the result:

Thumbnail created in Adobe Spark
Thumbnail created in Adobe Spark

Canva

This is a graphics tool I use every single day. Like Adobe Spark there are a YouTube templates built in. There aren’t as many bells and whistles as PicMonkey but once you’ve created a design it’s really easy to replicate that it keeping the brand elements consistent.

I use the premium Canva for work that costs me $12.95 per month. This speeds up creation as I have my brand colours and fonts programmed in.

Here’s the Canva thumbnail:

Thumbnail created in Canva
Thumbnail created in Canva

Which thumbnail do you prefer?

Thumbnails that attract the eye in searches both on YouTube and in Google could result in more views for your videos. Try something new today and look to see if it improves your views.

 

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How To Create YouTube Thumbnails That Get Your Videos Clicked
How To Create YouTube Thumbnails That Get Your Videos Clicked
 In Pursuit Of The Perfect Email Subscriber - How To Use Lead Incentives To Build A Better Audience

In Pursuit Of The Perfect Email Subscriber – How To Use Lead Incentives To Build A Better Audience

Are you struggling to grow your blog’s email subscribers? Are the people who subscribe actually interested in what you do?

In this post I’m tackling something that was on my ‘Yup I’ll do that one-day’ list for way too long. Something that sat at the bottom of my todo list, nagging me for months on end. When I finally got around to implementing it I saw an instant result.

That one thing was creating a lead incentive, also known as a lead magnet to attract email subscribers.

This is the story of what I created, how I’m marketed and how it’s working. I’ll share some tips along the way.

The story of my lead incentive



I’ve had an email sign up on my site since I built it, a MailChimp embed on my sidebar. It was one of the first things I added and over the years I’ve seen a steady trickle of subscribers from it.

But I wanted more.

I haven’t always been the best email marketer but just over a year ago, around the time I launched this podcast I vowed to take it seriously.

The first thing I did was clean my list. I deleted hundreds of people who didn’t open my mail. This meant that suddenly I had a small list and an urge to build it again, but properly this time.

How could I do that? Create a lead incentive. It took me over a year to finally get one up on my site.

You see there had always been a problem with that trickle of subscribers I was getting. I have this neat little free plugin from Hubspot that tells me when someone subscribes to my list and shows me the pages they looked at before they hit the subscribe button.

I found that I could predict from the page that the subscriber came from if they were really interested in what I was doing, if they’d want to read more, if they’d be interested enough to spread the word or buy from me.

How could I increase the type of subscribers I wanted? I could create a freebie that would be attractive to them and offer it as an incentive to sign up.

Now, this is hard for me, and it will be hard for you if you have different types of customer. I have different types of customer that I target with different types of post on my page.

The idea

In an ideal world, we’d have lots of lead magnets, one for each type of customer and we’d assign them to specific content on our page.

I have a plan for that in the future but as I’d been procrastinating a long while I decided just to bite the bullet and create one.

Before you create a lead incentive you should have a plan for the future too:

  • Write a list of the different types of customer that you write content for
  • Look at the problems you help them solve
  • Come up with a list of lead incentive ideas that will appeal to them

I chose to target the small business bloggers that visited my site with my first lead incentive. I had lots of ideas, eBooks, guides and checklists. In the end, I chose a simple checklist. Why?

I identified a common problem bloggers have. If I could offer them something that addressed that problem and give it to people in exchange for an email I was bound to get sign ups.

My first lead incentive for Spiderworking (and saying first after 8 years in business that sounds ridiculous) is a checklist for bloggers to implement before they publish a blog post.

Creating the checklist

So now I had my idea I needed to start creating.

I talked to my Facebook small business bloggers group and asked for their help. I’d put together a rough list of things to check before publishing but wanted to ensure I hadn’t missed anything.

The group members were great and suggested improvements.

If like me you work alone seek feedback on your work. If you want people to download your incentive and recommend it to others you need to make sure you are on the right track.

I used Canva to create my checklist but if you have the budget for a designer I recommend you use one. They’ll add the flare your design needs.

A good looking incentive is likely to get more traction.

Promoting your incentive

Have a look around, what assets do you have that can help you promote your incentive?

Here’s my list:

My Twitter profile:

  • Pinned post at top of feed
  • Link in my bio
  • Graphic in my cover photo
  • Regular tweets about the incentive
  • Twitter ads

My Facebook business page:

  • Pinned post at top of feed
  • Graphic in my cover photo
  • Link in description of cover photo
  • Facebook lead gen ads

Instagram:

  • Link in bio
  • Link mentioned in comments on a post (need customised link for this)
  • Instagram link click ads

LinkedIn/ Google+:

  • Links posted as part of content schedule

Pinterest:

  • Include a portrait pinnable image on the checklist landing page

Website:

  • Pop up window CTA
  • Landing page for lead incentive
  • Banner CTA on blog posts
  • Sidebar CTA
  • Hello bar (for the future)
  • Blog post/ podcast talking through the checklist

Email:

  • Add link to incentive in email signature

Creating graphics

Now I knew where I wanted to promote it I needed to create graphics for each one (except email, I still find a simple hyperlinked text call to action works best)

Each place I wanted to promote the checklist had different image dimensions. I made a list of these and used Canva to create the versions I needed.

Again, if you have any budget for a graphic designer I’d highly recommend you use one for this.

I use the Rapidology plug in for my pop up window and this lets me split test versions of my graphic so I created 2 for this. One with me and the CTA and one that just featured an image of the checklist itself.

Links

The pretty links plugin is a really handy tool for creating memorable links. Those of you who have been listening to my podcast for a while will remember that the link to my show notes used to be a customised bitly link. That was before I found Pretty Links.

Using it I can create customised URLs using my domain name. For example, the link to this post is spiderworking.com/65 far more memorable than the full complicated link. I can also see statistics on how often a pretty link has been clicked.

For my checklist landing page I chose the link spiderworking.com/beforeyoupublish. This is the link I shared to social channels where the link would be visible.

For the less visible links I used tracking URLs. These are links that you add a bit of tracking code to that show up in your Google analytics.

The sidebar promo of my checklist includes one of these tracking links.

Finally, I created a Thank You page that subscribers would land on once they completed details either on the pop-up window or on the landing page. This meant I could measure conversions by monitoring the number of users who landed on that page.

The results

Almost instantly I started seeing subscribers come in. Of course there were more at the beginning as I’d made a big splash launching it.

I also discovered pretty quickly that it was the graphic of the checklist that drove the most sign ups from my pop-up window.

It wasn’t until I started putting this post together that I delved further.

The checklist has been live for 2 months and this is the result so far:

  • 268 pretty link clicks
  • 93 on sidebar CTA
  • 238 unique visitors to the landing page
  • 86 downloads
  • 100% increase in conversion rate from pop-up window

Rapidology has inbuilt conversion tracking and I’ve been keeping a score of this since I installed the pop-up.

A mistake

One thing I didn’t do but should have was to create a separate thank you page for the pop-up window so that I could benchmark the conversion rate against the landing page, or set up a goal in Google analytics that could assist me with it. That’s something I’ve added to my todo list.

What’s next?

Am I happy with the results? Well yes it’s an improvement, and I’m getting not just more but better quality sign ups, but it could be better. I still have work to do.

Here’s what I have planned:

1. Use social ads
2. Use CTA’s in blog posts
3. Try Hello bar as pop-up isn’t enabled on mobile
4. Keep working on split testing on pop up
5. More targeted lead incentives for other pages

Blogging challenge

Your challenge for this week if you are willing to accept it is to

1. Decide on a lead incentive that will appeal to your ideal customer
2. Create your lead incentive
3. Promote it and set up a plan for measuring the results

Register for my FREE webinar: Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter (And How to Avoid Them)

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 In Pursuit Of The Perfect Email Subscriber - How To Use Lead Incentives To Build A Better Audience

In Pursuit Of The Perfect Email Subscriber – How To Use Lead Incentives To Build A Better Audience
Are You Neglecting The Most Powerful Video On Your YouTube Channel?
Are You Neglecting The Most Powerful Video On Your YouTube Channel?

When you invite someone to your house you’d probably give them a reason to come. A cup of tea, a drink, a gathering or a meal. When they arrive and ring the doorbell you don’t just let the door just swing open and expect your guest to let themselves in and find their way to you. It sounds like the start of a horror movie not the beginning of a loyal relationship.

But that’s what many of us are doing with our YouTube channels. When people find our channel we’re failing to welcome them in, we’re hoping they’ll find their way around and click the subscribe button before they know what they are subscribing to. Before they know who we are.

There’s one way we can welcome people when they arrive on our YouTube channel. Just like a host will smile and welcome a guest to their home we can welcome new YouTube visitors with a channel trailer.

When we do, our guests are likely to stay, to subscribe and to feel like they are getting to know us.

So many businesses fail with their trailers. Instead of a personal welcome they show long, boring adverts for their business. They are missing the point. Your channel trailer isn’t an advert for your business but an advert for your channel.

If you are feeling guilty here’s my tips for creating a better YouTube channel trailer

1. Be personal

The best channel trailers feature people talking to camera. It’s that personal connection, like being welcomed at the door when you visit a home that will make people want to connect. You don’t need fancy camera equipment or fast editing. A simple “hello, this is me” can work wonders.

I love this trailer from Brittany J Smith. She oozes personality, it makes me want to subscribe.

The best channel trailers are short, personal and to the point.

2. Tell people why to subscribe?

SORTEDfood have taken the ‘person to camera’ approach and made it entertaining. We live in their fridge and they introduce us to their ‘fridgecam’. They’ve taken elements from their videos and edited them together to give us a good picture of the sort of food we can expect from them.

3. Humour

When I was a kid no one left the cinema before the end of the titles of a Burt Reynolds movie. We stayed and watched because that’s when the outtakes were shown.

Outtakes still have appeal today and I love the way ‘Cooking with Dogs’ have worked them into their channel trailer. I laughed, I subscribed.

4. Keep it short

Your channel trailer has one job. To get people to subscribe, it doesn’t need to be long, so keep it under a minute if possible. Just enough time to get people to click subscribe.

5. Use Cards

You can make it easy for people to subscribe to your channel whilst they are watching your trailer by adding cards. They pop up during the video (or appear underneath on mobile). When people click they can subscribe directly from the video.

Add them, more than once, during your video.

You can add ‘Cards’ by clicking the ‘Cards’ icon underneath your video.

Cards work better than annotations as they display on both desktop and mobile.

Adding a YouTube channel trailer

Once you’ve created your trailer upload it to YouTube.

Go to your channel and click the ‘For new visitors’ tab

Click on 'For new visitors' to add your trailer
Click on ‘For new visitors’ to add your trailer

Click to add a channel trailer and select the video you want to add.

If you have a trailer and want to change it click the pencil on the right of your existing trailer

Select ‘Change trailer’ from the drop down menu.

To change your existing channel trailer click the pencil
To change your existing channel trailer click the pencil

Give it a go

Creating a channel trailer will increase your subscribers and make new visitors feel welcome. If you don’t have one give it a shot and let me see what you create.

Have you seen any good channel trailers? What makes you subscribe to a channel. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Are You Neglecting The Most Powerful Video On Your YouTube Channel
Are You Neglecting The Most Powerful Video On Your YouTube Channel
How To Use Blog Commenting To Build Better Business Relationships
How To Use Blog Commenting To Build Better Business Relationships

People are always talking about building relationships but how do we do it? Are we overlooking the one thing that could be the biggest relationship builder of all? Blog commenting.

Relationship building is definitely one of the most important parts of business success both online and offline. As customers we want to get to know the people we do business with before we hire them or buy from them. It can take months, even years for businesses to build strong relationships with customers but when they finally bloom you’ll have an ally for life.

When I’m asked about building relationships online the tools that always come to mind are Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. But there’s one tool that I know I’m neglecting and that’s blog commenting.

How to leave blog comments that work for your business



Pro-actively posting meaningful comments on other people’s blogs is an amazing way to build relationships with influential people in your industry.

So why don’t I do it more often?

My big excuse is that it’s time-consuming. As we know time is not something small businesses have a lot of. It’s so much easier to send a 140 character tweet or leave a quick comment on Facebook than it is to compose a decent comment in response to a blog post.

To leave a good comment you have to:

  • Read the blog post
  • Find something worthwhile saying
  • Compose your response
  • Spell check it (if you are me)

That’s a lot of work, it’s no wonder so many of us put it on the long finger.

Is the effort worth it?

Sometimes it might not be

There’s a blog I follow. I think I found it because it too talks about blogging. The first time I visited the site I was impressed, she had loads of comments. Immediately I was envious, why didn’t I get as many comments?

I followed the blog to try and find out.

It soon became clear that I’d made a rookie mistake. I’d looked at the numbers but I hadn’t looked at the comments. When I did I started to wonder why people were commenting. The comments weren’t bad but they were meaningless.

When I started looking at comments in general, I realised that there are only a few bloggers who get good quality comments on their blogs.

I suspect the blogger I was following was using a ‘Comment ring’. That’s a group of people who get together and comment on each other’s blogs in order to grow the number of comments they have.

I’m not totally anti this idea, I had a comment ring of four people once. The idea was that if people arrived on our blog and saw a comment they would be far more comfortable commenting themselves.

Our ring didn’t last long but it also didn’t work. I got comments from the group but very few otherwise.

We also run a comment thread in the Small Business Bloggers Facebook group. I have found this useful. We’re a small, supportive group and people will leave comments even when it’s not the allotted comment day or thread. The comments left have been valuable too and it’s becoming a good place for me to craft my commenting skills.

All this is great but as a business we need to be more strategic with our commenting.

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a CopyBlogger podcast hosted by Sonia Simone ‘How To Write (Much Better) Blog Comments‘ and I took it as a call to arms.

The value of commenting

Building relationships with potential customers should be one of the most important goals you have as a small business owner. Blogging and social media are great for this. You can get to know them, assess their needs, find out what problems they face and produce content that answers them.

The problem is, you are only reaching one person at a time.

I’m not for one minute suggesting you should stop building relationships with customers. What I am suggesting is that you take some of the time you assign to this to building relationships with the people who influence them.

This isn’t really a new concept. I’m sure if you are in business you’ve already started building a list of press contacts that you’ll send press releases to? And you’ll know that if you get to know those people better before you send your release they are more likely to give it a look?

It’s the same deal with influencers except you don’t need to send them a press release. Get to know them, and provide valuable content and they could well start talking about you without needing to be prompted.

If the right influencer shares your stuff, instead of reaching customers one by one, you’ll be reaching a whole bundle of your customers at once. Even better, because the influencer is a trusted source of information you’ll become trusted too.

Building relationships with influencers goes beyond them sharing your content. If you become friends with the smart people in your industry you’ll learn a whole lot from them that will benefit you and your customers in the future. If they know your customers or people like them they’ll have good insights into what makes them tick.

Creating a blog commenting plan

If I managed to persuade you to give it a go don’t just go on a comment frenzy. Using blog commenting effectively IS going to take time so you’re going to need a plan.

When people hear the term Influencer they think Kim Kardashian but she’s not going to be of any use to most of you. When I talk about influence I’m talking about the individuals who appeal to your target market and compliment your business.

You’ll need to choose these carefully. If you haven’t spent time creating a basic customer persona yet go do it before you start. I covered this back in episode 14.

Finding influential bloggers

Do some research. Find some people online who match your personas. What blogs and online publications do they read? Which to they look up to the most?

Make a list of blogs and online sites that are relevant to them.

If you’ve been following this blog you may have already done the work. Listen back at episode 62 for more on content discovery.

Once you’ve compiled your list subscribe to those blogs in Feedly or by email.

Setting a time

I’m a big believer that if you don’t set a regular time to do something it won’t happen. Or at least it won’t happen enough.

This, I admit has been part of my problem so I’m going to set mine now and you can hold me to it.

Monday is content day at Spiderworking so I’m going to slot it in at 12 noon, just before lunch. I’m going to allow 1/2 an hour and lunch will be my reward.

It’s your turn, get out your diary, your iCal, your Google calendar and set a day and time and set a reminder.

Now for the hard bit…

Writing comments

If you are a natural born writer or conversationalist you might find this bit easy, if like most of us you’re not it’s going to be more challenging.

Before you start typing your comment remember why you are doing this. It’s not just a challenge, you actually want to build some sort of relationship with the blogger and for that reason you’re going to need your comment to stand out.

Read the post:

  • What is it’s key message?
  • Do you agree, disagree?
  • Do you have an anecdote that supports or otherwise?
  • Does the post tap into an emotion?
  • What are other commenters saying?

Your answers to these questions are cues for your own comments. If you can write a blog post you can write a good comment.

Don’t type your response straight into the comment box.

There’s nothing worse than crafting a great comment and hitting publish only to get a website error. Your comment could disappear and never return.

Writing your comment somewhere else beforehand (I use Written? Kitten!) also helps the spelling challenged like me. When I read it back I’ll spot my typos and another plugin indicated errors with little red lines. That saves me lots of red-faced moments.

Finally, add your details.

Most sites will require your name and email address (which isn’t published) and your website address if you have one. If they ask for a web address it’s a good idea to add it. The blogger can follow that link back to your site to find out more about you.

If you are prompted to sign up for follow-up comments do, you’ve opened a conversation make sure you can see when people respond.

I’m just scratching the surface with advice here. I’ll come back and do another post once I’ve mastered the art. Until then listen to Sonia’s podcast episode on Copy Blogger.

Challenge

I’ve set myself the challenge. 1/2 an hour every Monday devoted to commenting on the blogs that matter. Will you join me?

Let me know below if you are joining in or if you’ve found success with blog commenting.

 

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How To Use Blog Commenting To Build Better Business Relationships
How To Use Blog Commenting To Build Better Business Relationships
What the latest Facebook news feed algorithm change means for your page
What the latest Facebook news feed algorithm change means for your page

Facebook just updated their news feed algorithm again and this time it’s all about authenticity. Should you be worried?

Facebook have always been clear about what they want us to post on our pages. They’ve stated it again in the latest update. 

“Stories that are relevant to [your] audiences”

As marketers we’re always looking for a quick fix, a special trick that will hack the feed and increase our reach. If you are guilty of this the latest algorithm tweak is aimed at you.

The first part of the update relates to ‘Authentic communication’ and that’s what I’m going to look at in this week’s one minute moment.

Be Authentic – What the latest news feed algorithm means to page owners

 

What does the update mean?

Facebook announced this update to the algorithm in a blog post on their newsroom blog.

“With this update, we’re adding new universal signals to determine whether a post might be authentic. To do this, we categorised Pages to identify whether or not they were posting spam or trying to game feed by doing things like asking for likes, comments or shares.”

At first this looks like a swipe at fake news but when you examine it closer it’s a way to penalise pages that are consistently being spammy.

Fake news isn’t the only problem on Facebook. Clickbait stories, where a sensationalist headline leads you to a far from sensational article has been something Facebook has being trying to combat with the algorithm for years.

Like & Share contests might be against the rules but pages ignore the rules. This latest update should target that content and limit the organic reach these type of update gets.

What should you do?

Look at each post before you hit publish:

Is it interesting? Entertaining? Informative? helpful?

Does it give value to your audience?

Is it spam?

Don’t ask for a like, don’t ask for a share, don’t try one of those silly posts that asks people to like if you love your mother and share if you love your kids. Don’t run pointless competitions that ask for like or share. Don’t post clickbait

Do be relevant, helpful, useful, post stuff your target audience will want to interact with.

Create a content plan. Don’t worry about posting all the time, just post the best.

What works for you?

Will this news feed change effect you? What content do you post that helps you build authentic relationships with your audience? I’d love to hear your tips.

Register for my FREE webinar: Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter (And How to Avoid Them)

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What the latest Facebook news feed algorithm change means for your page
What the latest Facebook news feed algorithm change means for your page

 

The nervous bloggers guide to getting through face to face networking events
The nervous bloggers guide to getting through face to face networking events

Does the word ‘Networking’ strike fear into your heart? Do you hate walking into a room full of strangers? What has that got to do with blogging anyway?

When we talk about promoting our blogs we tend to think of what we can do online to push our content out. We Tweet, we share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest even Instagram. We build relationships online and people begin to share our content too.

Could walking into a room full of people also help you promote your blog?

This week we’re going to look at face to face networking, how to conquer the fear and build better relationships using your blog.

Trying Frederique Murphy’s STOP technique could help. Read more about that here. 

How To Overcome Your Networking Fears



If you cringe when you hear the term ‘Networking’ you are not alone. I too dread networking opportunities but I tend to find it’s not half as scary when I arrive at a meeting or event as I thought it was going to be.

Networking in person has benefits way beyond promoting your blog. In many ways it mimics what we do online to build readership and community.

  • We will meet people who can help pass business to us
  • We will meet people who will become our customers
  • We will meet people who are influential to our target market

I’m a reluctant networker but I’ve developed some strategies that make it more effective and we’ll look at how you can use your blog to leverage the connections you make.

Before I get onto that let me tell you a story:

I’m actually quite reluctant to share it as the memory still has me cowering with embarrassment.

As many of you might know, prior to starting my first business I used to work in the film industry in Ireland. I worked as an assistant director and breaking into the business isn’t an easy job. Like most careers in Ireland success very much depends on who you know.

I’d only been in the country a year when I started looking for work so I knew no one. I needed to find people and connect with them.

There was no Facebook, I didn’t have computer access and the internet was only for special people back then. All I had at my disposal was a phone and myself.

I learned that every month there was a ‘union meeting’ in Ardmore studios. Assistant directors would get together to assess submissions from new people wanting to get involved in the industry and to chat.

So I went to a meeting armed with my CV.

When I arrived there were 6 or 7 people in the room. I sat on my chair, terrified and listened to what was going on. The meeting ended, the bar opened so I made my move.

I approached one woman and handed her my CV “I’m a trainee” I said, “here’s my CV”. My voice was trembling, my hand was trembling, my face was white. I had the fear.

The woman took my CV turned her back on me and left.

It may not surprise you to hear that she didn’t hire me. Not then, not ever. I was hardly a picture of confidence.

It wasn’t the end of my career, I got better at it but I’ll never forget that day.

If only I could go back in time now and instruct my younger self. I’m pretty sure I could have made a friend and gotten hired.

Luckily in 2017 we have a lot of tools at our disposal that make networking easier. I’d never approach a stranger today the way I did back then. I’d have done my research and I’d be prepared.

Preparing for a networking event

There’s nothing worse than arriving at an event and not knowing anyone. The fear sets in. Luckily in the age of the smart phone we can pretend we’re looking at something important on our phone but if we spend too long doing this we’re missing opportunities.

To ensure you don’t end up alone with your phone make plans in advance. Use your social networks to find out who is going to the event and connect with them. Open a conversation online and arrange to meet.

Now when you walk in the door you will be on a mission, you are looking for the people you have arranged to meet. You might even meet other people in the process.

Some events send you a list of attendees beforehand, others have Facebook, LinkedIn or Slack groups. These are good places to strike up conversations.

If you don’t get this info follow the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. Who is tweeting about the event? Send your own tweets including the tag to find out who is going.

Check the social media accounts for the event itself and get involved in the conversations on their pages.

At the event

The event hashtag and accounts are your friends.

I’ve had the best conversations whilst sitting on a train, bus or tram on the way to an event. Start following the hashtag and get involved in the pre-event buzz. Tweet, Snap, Instagram or Facebook a selfie on route and interact with others who are doing the same.

Sharing a selfie makes you easy to identify and you’ll spot some familiar faces from the feed when you arrive. You’ll feel more comfortable approaching them as you’ve been talking online already.

This interaction can continue when you arrive. Keep an eye on the hashtag and find out who else is in the room. Don’t just follow, tweet and interact with people. Arrange to meet up in the break.

Many networkers advocate meeting as many people as possible at an event. There are even ‘Speed networking’ events where you get to talk to people for 60 seconds each.

These might be good ice breakers but I find it more valuable to get to know one or two people better rather than 20 briefly. If you’ve already made a connection on social media you’ll know a little bit about each other and the in-face meeting will just solidify your relationship.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and meet new people, set a goal to meet at least 2 new people at every event you go to.

Conversations

I think one of the most intimidating thing about going to a network meeting is wondering what you should say. I was certainly struck dumb at that union meeting.

Here are a few tactics that can help you cope:

1. Ask people about themselves

When you ask someone about themselves you are tapping into a wealth of conversation and making a good first impression. It’s flattering to know that someone is interested enough in you to ask. Listen carefully to what they say and if they seem comfortable talking ask them some more.

Be careful of turning into an interrogator. If someone seems uncomfortable talking change the subject, talk about the weather the catering or find some common ground they are more comfortable with.

I got talking to a guy in the food queue at a conference once. It was clear straight up that his line of conversation wasn’t suited to my business yet he persisted to ask me question, upon question. I felt quite intimidated and although I did manage to turn the conversation into holidays in New York eventually I was sure to avoid him for the rest of the event.

Don’t’ be that guy.

2. Prepare

Have your conversation starters prepared in advance. You’ve already identified on social media who is going to be there. Before you go to the event make a list of them and do a bit of research. Did they write or share a blog post recently that you can bring into the conversation? Do they talk about their pets, hobbies or family online? If so these could be great conversation starters. I’ve built many relationships after talking to fellow cat lovers.

3. Smile

When I went to that union meeting and met the woman it wasn’t just my hard sell that was a turn-off. It was the terrified expression on my face.

These days I’m a big fan of the term ‘fake it until you make it’. The last thing you feel like doing when you enter a room full of strangers is smiling but a big smile will make you appealing, people will want to talk to you. Go to the bathroom before you walk in and plaster a smile on your face, you’ll ooze confidence when you walk in the room even if you aren’t feeling it at first.

4. Look for others who are struggling

Because I have struggled with face to face relationships in the past I’m overly sensitive to others who look like they may be experiencing the same thing. If I see someone standing nervously by themselves I tend to go and chat to them. I’ve met some amazing people that way. If you are in a group bring that person into the group, you’ve made a new friend and alleviated their discomfort.

5. Important conversation topics

Once you’ve got someone to open up and tell them about themselves and their business tell them about what you do and find out if they have any challenges in that area. You’re not going to sell to them straight away but by understanding their challenges now will give you some great blog post topics and fodder for later.

6. Get a card, a Twitter handle or and email address

There’s not point networking at an event if you aren’t going to nurture that relationship. Don’t let those few hours at a meeting be wasted. Get a business card, email or Twitter handle so you can stay in touch. And when I say get an email address don’t add that to your mailing list. Networking meetings are about building individual relationships, you can persuade them to sign up to your list later.

Business cards are handy because you can scribble some notes on it later whilst your meeting is still fresh in your head. Many networkers recommend doing this during the meeting but unless your jotting down something you need to send them as a follow up I find this makes for an uncomfortable moment.

The notes you make should include:

  1. What they looked like – it’s so hard to remember faces if you meet a lot of people in the day
  2. What you talked about
  3. Questions and challenges they had about what you do and your industry
  4. Anything you told them you’d follow up with.

After the event

Now you’ve met people you should follow up your connection. When you get home Tweet them, connect with them on LinkedIn or drop them an email saying how nice it was to meet.

Look back at the info you jotted down about them. What topics did you discuss? What challenges did they have? Can you share a link with them from your blog that will help? If you haven’t written about that topic yet is there another helpful article you can share?

If you haven’t blogged on the topic could you? If people you are asking this question other potential customers are looking for the answers too.

I’m sure your new connection will be delighted that you have created a bit of content just for them that solves their problem. Make sure you share it with them first. They’ll appreciate the gesture and there’s a good chance that they’ll share it with their network and remember you when they find someone needing what you do.

Just because face to face marketing happens offline it doesn’t mean it’s not an opportunity to promote your blog and gather ideas. The people you meet in real life could well become your strongest advocates in the future.

Your Challenge

Next time you get an invite to a local chamber networking meeting or go to a conference don’t back away from the opportunity.
Find out in advance who is going, plan to meet people, connect with them on social media and attend.Don’t forget to make notes about the people you meet so you can continue to build the relationship when you get home.

What about you?

Do you love networking or hate it? What tactics have you put in place to make it easier? I’d love to hear your thoughts below. 

 

 

Register for my FREE webinar: Top 5 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter (And How to Avoid Them)

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The nervous bloggers guide to getting through face to face networking events
The nervous bloggers guide to getting through face to face networking events
How to drive traffic to your website from YouTube
How to drive traffic to your website from YouTube

How can you convert YouTube views into website traffic? 

You might be a hit on YouTube but what good is that if people aren’t coming to your website, subscribing to your list, buying what you sell?

For years I did nothing to optimise my videos and just used YouTube as a host. Now I’m looking at how I can drive people my site when they find my video’s on YouTube.

As a follow up to my posts on optimising YouTube video I’ll show you three ways you can add links to your YouTube video and drive traffic back to your site.

3 Ways To Link To Your Website From YouTube

1. The Description

Add your link, including the http:// right at the top of the description of your video. This means people will be able to click through straight away without having to click elsewhere.

Don’t link to the homepage of your site, link to the most appropriate page for the video you are sharing.

You can set a default description that will appear each time you upload a video. This is a handy reminder but don’t forget to edit it to link to the page or post you want to drive traffic to.

To set it as a default visit your creator studio.

Visit your creator studio
Visit creator studio

Select ‘Channel’ and ‘Upload Defaults’ to add your link

Edit your YouTube channel default settings to include your link
Edit your YouTube channel default settings to include your link (include http://)

 

 

2. Use cards

Link your YouTube channel officially to your website. It’s not hard to do, you just need to link your YouTube account to your Google search console. Visit the ‘Advanced’ section of your Channel settings in your Creator Studio to enable this.

Verify your website on YouTube using search console
Verify your website on YouTube using search console

Once you are verified you can add ‘Cards’ to your videos. These pop up whilst the video is being viewed and can link back to your website.

You can set these up by clicking the ‘Card’ icon under your video.

Click the card icon to add links to your YouTube video.
Click the card icon to add links to your YouTube video.

You’ll find the ‘link’ option in the drop down menu under ‘Add cards’

Select 'link' to add a link card to your video
Select ‘link’ to add a link card to your video

To ensure people click give people a call to action, tell them where they can find out more.

Cards work better than annotations, although they are smaller they work for desktop and mobile versions of your video. Annotations only appear on the desktop.

3. Add links to your channel header

You can overlay links on your YouTube header image. Click on the pencil at the top of your header image and select ‘edit links’

Click the pencil to edit the links that appear as an overlay
Click the pencil to edit the links that appear as an overlay

From here you can link to your website and change the anchor text for your link to make it more enticing.

Add value

What happens if you add all those links? Nothing! You need to give people a reason to click your links. What is on offer if they visit your website, will there be a fuller explanation? A resource that will help people with their challenges?

It’s only when you offer value that people will want to follow the link back to your website.

Tell me about you

Have you succeeded in driving traffic back to your website from YouTube? What tactics have you used that have worked?

 

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How to drive traffic to your website from YouTube
How to drive traffic to your website from YouTube
Build more loyal readers with an email list
Build more loyal readers with an email list

How can you get people to come back to your blog over and over again? How can you capture the attention of new site visitors and get them to return? Build an email subscription list for your blog.

Repeat readers are the best, the more someone visits your blog the more they’ll trust you, the more likely they are to buy. But how can we get more of them?

You’ll recognise this story:

You’ve been browsing the internet and you arrive on the best blog site ever. It’s fun to read, packed with great information or just interesting. You say the name of the blog to yourself a few times. You know you’ll remember to check it out again. You might even follow their Facebook page and Twitter account whilst you are there.

A couple of months later you remember the site but you can’t for the life of you remember what it was called. You scroll through Facebook but there’s no sign of any updates. Same on Twitter, you follow so many people you click on a few that you think might be them but no, none of them are.

You’ve lost it. You feel a pang of regret and chastise yourself for being so forgetful and then move on.

It’s not just me or you that has this problem, it’s your readers. You’re creating great content, attracting the right people who love what you do but you are losing them.

Today I’m going to give you a quick overview of how to get started using email marketing to promote your blog. It’s a huge topic and it’s one I’m sure I’ll come back to.

Building an email subscriber list for your blog



I asked my Small Business Bloggers Facebook group how they chose to subscribe to blogs. I’ve always been an RSS Feedly fan but I was surprised to discover that members of the group predominantly subscribed by email.

Granted, it’s a small and bias sample of readers but it definitely warrants some more thought.

If you’re going to start an email list for your blog you should subscribe to a few. Look specifically for blogs that share your target market. This will give you a taste of what is working and what isn’t.

  • Are they sending a mail each time they blog or do you get a digest?
  • Do their emails land in your inbox or do they end up in the promo or spam tab on Gmail?
  • Do you actually read the posts that come in or do you filter them to read later?

Now you’ve got an idea of what others are doing you can start planning your own.

You’ll need:

  • An email marketing software provider
  • A way to encourage people to subscribe
  • A plan for sending emails

Email marketing software

Why do you need email software anyway? Can’t you just email out from your own email address?

The answer is no, it’s not a good idea.

Why not?

  • There are deliverability issues, you can only send a few emails at a time via your own email. This stops us spamming.
  • It makes it hard, nearly impossible to manage your list. You’ll get loads of bounces, unsubscribes flooding your email.
  • Your email could be marked as a spammer which means your regular emails might stop delivering
  • There’s no measurement. You can’t see if your emails are working, if people are opening and clicking.
  • Email software can give you some amazing statistics about who is subscribing, opening and interacting.

If you’re on a low budget Mailchimp is a good starting point. It’s free to use up to 2,000 email addresses and it’s reasonably user-friendly.

Other services Constant Contact, Aweber amongst others offer a free 30-day trial. Test them all and chose the best fit for your business.

All of these providers offer easy email design, list management and statistics.

Getting subscribers

It’s tempting just to add all your friends and contacts to your email list and start sending them your blog updates.

But don’t…

That’s spam! if people start marking your emails as spam you’ll find that you have problems delivering your emails in future and you could get banned from using your email marketing tool.

Instead, you need to think about building a relevant list of people who really want to get your updates.

Make it easy

Remember our visitor at the beginning, they found your site, they loved your site, they want to return. You need to make it clear to them how they can subscribe.

The simplest solution is to add a subscribe form to your site. You’ll get the code from your email software provider, it’s then just a case of adding it to your site somewhere.

The obvious place is the sidebar but this might not be obvious when viewing your site on mobile. You could create a landing page for your email subscription on your site and link to it with calls to action in your blog posts, your email signature and on social media. You could add a pop-up window to your site that encourages readers to subscribe.Or you could include all three.

The key is to make it easy for your visitors to see how to subscribe. Don’t hide your form in the footer of your site, make it obvious. To get people to hand over your details you need to tell them what’s in it for them.

Think about the value you are offering

Will subscribing keep them up to date with the latest industry news? Help them build a better business blog?

Adding a form to your site should result in a trickle of subscribers.

Getting relevant subscribers

Not all of the traffic that comes to your blog is relevant. Some of my most popular posts have a broad appeal beyond my target market and my current strategies. It’s great that they are signing up to receive updates but the people I really want are the people who fit my customer personas.

Is there a way of encouraging more of these subscribers?

Yes, there is. You can offer a lead incentive, often called a lead magnet that you’ve developed with your customer persona in mind.

This could be an:

  • ebook
  • Voucher
  • Free consultation
  • cheat sheet
  • checklist

or something else that will entice your ideal reader or customer to hand over their email address.

You don’t need to stop at one lead incentive. You should create at least one for each type of customer or reader you are trying to attract and add CTA’s to the posts that are targeted at each. You can even trigger pop-ups that appear on specific posts, pages or categories on your site.

I keep mentioning Pop-ups and I know you’ve been cringing each time I do. Pop-ups are annoying and nasty right?

I resisted them for years but finally, after looking at stats and data I added one to my site. I’m using a free pop-up WordPress plugin called Rapidology that allows me to create ‘exit intent’ pop-ups. You will only see the pop up when you are about to leave the site. It’s working, I’m getting subscribers.

Before you enable a pop-up, be aware that if you have one that displays on mobile Google could penalise your site in mobile search results.

For mobile email collection, you might look at other tools such as Hello Bar. Instead of a pop up this adds a line at the top of the screen that includes your call to action. You could also consider adding a form to the bottom or middle of your posts.

Promote it

Once you’ve got your lead incentive, promote it. Pin it to the top of your Facebook and Twitter pages, Share it on LinkedIn, in your Instagram bio, Tweet about it regularly.

Facebook ads will also help you drive subscriptions. I’ve found that ‘lead gen’ ads on Facebook are the best value.

When you click a link on Facebook the page it can take a while to load. This has nothing to do with the site you are visiting, it’s the Facebook browser that slows the process. This slow load time means that people often abandon your site before your page loads. Lead Gen ads address this issue by removing that load time. They work within Facebook allowing users to complete lead gen forms without leaving Facebook.

Going offline

We’ve talked about the online ways to capture emails but there are lots of ways you can encourage subscribers offline.

Every time I go to Wagamama there’s a big bowl on the counter full of business cards. If I add mine I’ll get special offers by email. Special offers sound good. Wagamama have my email.

A local hotel has a similar bowl but this time, if I add my email address I could win a dinner for two. That local hotel has my email address.

If you have a physical premises is there something you can do to encourage people to give you their email?

Be careful what you ask for. People aren’t stupid, they understand that their email address is currency. Just linke when you are collecting emails online you need to offer something of real value in return.

There’s a large European chain of shops that offer shoppers the chance to get their receipt by email. It’s confusing, I’ll be standing at the cash register, paper receipt in hand wondering why they need to email it to me as well? I always politely decline the offer. That store does not have my email.

What emails should you send?

According to a speaker at Hubspot’s Inbound conference in 2015 on average 67% of subscribers will open the first email they get from you. Only 27% open the second.

So that first email better be good right?

To ensure it is, set up a welcome email. This is an automated email that goes to new subscribers as soon as they sign up.

I try and make mine sound as personal as possible, I want recipients to know they are talking to me, a real person, not a corporate machine.

I tell people a bit about myself, what they can expect now they’ve signed up and ask them to respond by telling me a bit about themselves.

This approach works well for small businesses. It will help you build stronger relationships with your readers.

You can go beyond automating this one email by setting up a whole email sequence that will slowly involve readers in your brand. Darren Rowse discussed this at length on his Problogger podcast.

What about your blog updates?

I subscribe to Mark Schaefer’s blog, each time a new post appears on his site I get an email containing the post in full. I read those posts in my email when they arrive and if they are good, which of course most are, I’ll share them on social media later.

Although as a reader I like this approach it has drawbacks. Particularly if we don’t’ have an audience the size of Mark’s.

We need people to come to our website so we can track them, segment them, sell to them. If our readers are reading our full posts in our emails we could be missing out on this data and opportunity.

Instead, most bloggers will share a taster of their article in the email with a click through to where subscribers can read more.

If you are blogging once a week or once a month sending an email out each time you blog could be a great way to keep readers coming back but if we blog more frequently, like Mark we need to make sure we aren’t overwhelming our audience with content. Three emails a week could be way too much for our readers.

What’s the alternative?

I used to send my blog posts out automatically, as I posted them. But this meant that some weeks readers would get three emails other weeks they’d get one. This inconsistency wasn’t good and I’d get lots of un-subscribe and very few opens on the weeks that three emails went out.

I switched and now I send a digest email once a week. In that email, I include not just my latest blog posts but links to my Facebook live and articles I’ve written for other sites and any additional content I have created. The result has been a boost in open and click-through rates.

Other emails

You’ve built a list, you should see more repeat traffic as a result but don’t leave it there. Look at scheduling other regular emails. Could you send a monthly newsletter? What about sales and offers emails?

Create a schedule for the emails you want to send out to ensure you’re not overlapping sales, newsletters and updates. I’ve always found that it’s email that makes the most sales for my businesses but I also want to ensure I’m delivering enough value to my subscribers to keep them interested.

This might sound like a lot of work but you can’t rely on people finding your latest post on social media, you need to make it easy for them to read your latest posts.

Email can help you build relationships the same way social media does. I like nothing more than chatting to subscribers who reply to my newsletters, blog digests or welcome emails.

The more people come back to your site and communicate with you the more they’ll trust you and it’s when they trust you that they’ll buy from you.


Challenge

  • Choose an email software provider
  • Devise a plan for collecting email addresses
  • Make an email marketing plan for sending out your blog updates, newsletters and sales emails.
  • Sign up to my newsletter and blog updates

 

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Build more loyal readers to your blog with an email list
Build more loyal readers to your blog with an email list