A Better System for SEO: An Interview With Fresh Banana's Ray Field
A Better System for SEO: An Interview With Fresh Banana’s Ray Field

What can you do on your website to appear higher in search rankings? How can you find keywords now that keyword planner is pay to play? What is a long tail keyword anyway?

Ray Field from FreshBananas, an ex-fireman built his first website in 1996. 1996, I’d only been in Ireland a year then and was still writing long letters to my friends and family back home. I didn’t even get my first email address until the following year.

He had a lucky break and his first website secured a big contract for his client. He decided he needed to understand why her site ranked so high to he could apply the principles to other sites. Over an 8 year period taught himself SEO (search engine optimisation). Now SEO is his thing.

I talked to Ray about SEO, how to make sure your page sustains a good ranking on Google, a hack to get around the new restrictive access to keyword planner and a useful process for testing keywords.



Ray has launched an online SEO course that focuses on on-page SEO. I took the course and found it so helpful I became an affiliate. Find out more about it here.

I started by asking Ray why he’d developed his SEO course

About 10 years ago I had the notion of documenting what I do because what I do is different to what most SEOs do. Most SEOs work on links and I don’t because when I was teaching myself SEO it was all about words on pages. I did that small website for that catering company in 96 and there were no links. That fluke, and it was a fluke wasn’t down to links. It was whatever was on the pages was affecting the rankings.

The client didn’t give me copy or images so I read, I went to the library, I became a little bit knowledgeable about catering and I put the words on the pages.

So I put the words on the pages so I thought, it’s got to be the words and then I got to realise that it’s got to be where I’m using those words. So that’s where I’ve stayed. I don’t build links but most SEOs do. And that is one of the big problems with the industry.

I know a lot of other bloggers are getting most of their traffic from Facebook and Twitter. Should we still bother with SEO?

I think we need to bother because we need to look at and try to embrace any marketing channel we possibly can.

If someone is doing well on social media, if someone is earning a fair bit, a well worth wage on social media, then there’s every chance that if they look at another channel to market themselves they can double that.

The other thing with SEO is that if you don’t do anything dodgy in the way that you manipulate Google you can be there (on page one of Google) for years. I’ve worked for a lot of clients and I can still randomly check keywords that I worked on 10 years ago, 12 years ago and they are still on page one. I haven’t touched that site in 10 or 12 years but they’re still there.

A common comment I get from people is that they’re on page 14 for a keyword so they are ranking around 140-160.

They’ll say to me that ‘my page is targeting this keyword’ but when I look it’s not targeting the keyword it’s mentioning the keyword which is different to targeting it. They’re talking about it but incidentally. They’re talking about other things in the copy and on the page that makes Google think that it’s not a dedicated page on any particular keyword.

Google can’t work out what the page is about so it gives it a poor ranking.

Boris is an interior designer who wants to target bulk orders with developers. Where should he start?

What he should do is make some simple checks to determine the popularity of some of his keywords.

His first step would be to go to Google’s keyword planner. You need to have an active AdWords account.

Is there a minimum spend on that AdWords account?

I don’t think there is. What I do is I pick a keyword that is really cheap if someone clicks on my ad and where there’s very little monthly search activity. So my ads might show 30 times a month, I might get two clicks and a click is one pound.

Even if I spend £10 a month Google opens up and gives me accuracy with keyword planner.

The other thing that people can do which is even cheaper again is to make sure that the bid price that they are setting for the bid on the ad positions the ad lower down. The bottom of the page will do.

We’re trying to discourage people from clicking. We’re just running the ad to get the use of Keyword planner.

Boris is in keyword planner now. He’s set up an ad to get full access. What’s next?

First of all, he looks at how many interior designers work in his locality because they’re the guys he’s wanting to get talking to. They can move his carpets, his sofas in much bigger numbers.

If he wants to reach them, and if he’s in London for example, he’s needing these designers not just to see his website but to come in and talk to him. So he needs to look for the interior design companies based in London.

In Keyword planner he types in ‘Interior designers London’. He looks at how many people type that in, he looks at those designers and then he looks at the price Google suggests for the click of a link on an AdWords ad.

Now he creates the ad, uses wording in the ad that is talking to these interior designers. Before he sets the ad live he then creates a page on his website, he frames the copy the way he wants to talk to the designers because it’s not a page that’s going to rank for the keywords.

Once he’s got the page up he’d put a contact form, make sure his address and phone number are on it. Make sure that information is in an easy to see place on the page.

Once he’s created the page and the ad he could be live easily within an hour. That’s a simple initial step that he can do.

This is just the testing phase. If he finds that the ad is working then he needs to SEO that page for those keywords. Get it to rank and then he can stop the ads.

If he’s done it the right way, that page would sit on page one ranking for years.

If Boris identifies a few keywords that work should he bring those all together into one page?

That entirely depends on the relationship between the bunch of keywords he’s got. If he’s got a couple of keywords directly related to ‘interior designers London’ but he’s found a bunch of other keywords that step away from them his success will be dependent on how far away those second set of keywords are to his first bunch.

Just to give an example, not related to Boris.

A client asked me a while back to SEO her website for ‘VAT Calculators’. It’s a simple page with a simple online tool. I SEOd the page for ‘VAT Calculator’ but when I was doing the keyword research I realised that lots of people type in a very wide variety of other keywords and all those keywords are very highly related to the one keyphrase ‘VAT Calculator’.

So I could create a page that ranked for a high number of keywords because they were very highly related. (Just look at this spreadhseet – That’s 293 Keywords Ray found for his client kashflow.com).

If you’ve got that kind of relevance between a wide bunch of keywords then it’s absolutely doable to create a page of copy and target all of those.

In an average Google day it usually sees between 25% and 33% of keywords that have been typed in that have never been typed in before.

When Google sees a keyword it’s never come across before it’s got to attach it to web pages.

So Boris can absolutely target a bunch of keywords but they’ve got to be related. If there are any other keywords people type into Google, directly related to the keywords Boris wants to target, that he hasn’t noticed then Google will make up for that shortfall because it has to attach keywords to particular pages.

Is there any specific trend we should be looking at in 2017 SEO wise?

It’s the same one that comes up every year. Be extremely careful if you are looking for link-based SEO because Google is really hammering that now.

Before you give us your challenge can you explain the term ‘Long Tail Keyword’ because a lot of people won’t know what it means?

Let’s talk about a Dyson vacuum cleaner. If someone is looking to change their vacuum cleaner has packed up and they go looking online for another one.

What we all tend to do at the start is what we call ‘browser-based searches’ where we type in the word ‘Dyson’. We get Dyson popping up at number one because we typed in the brand name. We get tens of thousands of other pages all selling Dyson products. Because we’ve never had a Dyson cleaner before we’re not sure if it’s for us and we’re not sure if we are going to go for a Dyson what model.

We type in Dyson and from that search we spend hours over the period of a week or so looking at Dysons, getting the feel for if we want one that you drag along, the cylinder models, one that’s got a big handle on it or whether you want the battery operated one so you don’t have a cable. We generally look for information based searches.

Once we’re armed with the information, we then change the keywords we type into Google. We no longer type in ‘Dyson’ we go for long tail searches. Long tail searches are far more specific and people are ready to buy, they have the credit card out on the desk.

Long tail keywords for Dyson might be:

  • Cheap Dyson DC25 cleaner
  • Dyson multi-floor hoover

Then the buyer will pick maybe ‘This site has the best out of the nine on page one of Google’ and does the website look like it’s trustworthy?

There’s a big difference between primary competitive keywords and long tail keywords but the sales are at the long tail end.

Challenge

To get into the swing of long tail keywords. Go do some research and come up with 10 long tail keywords for:

1. Flying lessons
2. Villas Majorca
3. Chandeliers

Find out more about Ray’s excellent online SEO course here (affiliate link). I’ve done it and I learned a lot.

 

 

A Better System for SEO: An Interview With Fresh Banana's Ray Field
A Better System for SEO: An Interview With Fresh Banana’s Ray Field
How To Score Your Social Networks So You Know Which Ones To Use For Your Business
How To Score Your Social Networks So You Know Which Ones To Use For Your Business

What social networks should you be using to promote your business? How do you choose the ones that will be most effective for you?

Do you ever get that feeling that you are doing too much? You’ve updated Instagram, now Facebook, now Twitter, what about Snapchat? Have you looked at LinkedIn recently? What about that new site everyone is talking about?

Your mind is all over the place. You need to run your business but how will people know you are here unless you keep on top of your social networks? If you stop posting your blog posts to Reddit will people stop reading?

I’ve been there. My head spinning, my anxiety rising… and all over a few posts online.

Marketing our blog and business on social media takes time, if we spread ourselves too thin we end up rushing and doing everything badly. That’s why, when we start building a strategy we need to be selective about where we spend our time.

But how do you choose which networks to use and what should you use each for?

How to choose what social networks to use to promote your business



Score your networks

Before we delve deeper I want you to do something. I want you to write a list of all the social networks you are using at the moment. Then I want you to give each one a score out of 5 for how effectively you are using them.

Consider how often you post good quality content, how much you communicate with customers and influential people there and how many sales you have directly made.

Here’s my list:

Score the social networks that you are using most effectively
Score the social networks that you are using most effectively

That’s 6 social networks, it’s no wonder that I’m performing badly on some.

Before you choose which of the networks you should be concentrating on you’ll need to do a bit more work.

Analyse your networks. Which ones will bring you the most customers? It’s easy to get carried away with networks that deliver lots of traffic to your blog but unless those are the right people and they are hanging around on your site for a while, signing up to your newsletter, enquiring or buying you could well be spending your time somewhere else.

For example, I realised that I was wasting my time on StumbleUpon. It was delivering traffic, a whole load of it but it wasn’t the right traffic.

You might have thousands of Instagram followers but unless they’re clicking the link in your bio or clicking the contact button it might not be worth your time spending time engaging with your audience there.

If you’re using social networks already you can take a good look at your Google Analytics to see which ones are working for your business.

Does this change the scores you recorded above?

Knowing your customers

You’re probably getting tired of me saying this, but it is really important that you know and understand your customers. The more you know about them the more accurately you can market to them.

If you haven’t created a persona yet you’ll find more on how to do that in episode 14.

Once you know even the basic information about your customers you’ll have a good idea where to start with your social networking.

Sprout Social just released a report that shows the networks that are most popular with each generation.

It’s not a comprehensive report, LinkedIn isn’t included in the statistics and it’s missing the youngest generation (Generation Z) but there’s some interesting reading there.

For example, it might surprise you that more Millenials are using Facebook than Snapchat?

In fact, no matter who you are targeting online it looks like Facebook is the place to start.

But we can’t just rely on an age group to define our audience. There are always people who succeed on networks we may not expect.

For example Chocolate Johnny (chocjohnny on Snapchat) is extremely successful on Snapchat  and Periscope even though he is far from being a Millenial and his products seem better suited to a Gen X audience.

Does the type of business you have affect your choice?

When I analysed my social networks I felt that my presence was strongest on are Facebook and Twitter. I’m a B2B (a business that targets other businesses) brand so why Facebook?

It can be hard for a B2B business to excel on Facebook and I definitely lag behind some of my customers who are B2C (target consumers) but I do have an audience there.

I work with small businesses. Small business owners use Facebook for business every day so having a strong presence there makes sense. Are my customers likely to share my posts with their friends? Not very often but it’s a good place to meet them and engage with them. My Facebook page and group have been valuable for this and it’s also great for getting readers, listeners and viewers who I can convert into customers. If you also target small businesses it’s well worth looking at Facebook for marketing.

If you are B2B and your target is larger businesses you should still consider Facebook. Are there professional groups you can join? Are the CEOs and decision makers of the companies you work with actively using it?

Of course, LinkedIn is a better fit fo B2B so perhaps that’s where you should spend your time. And don’t forget about Twitter.

For a B2C business, Facebook is a must, beyond that look at Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat if you have the time for it.

You shouldn’t discount LinkedIn either, it could be a good place to connect with the people who influence your customers.

That’s not helping me narrow my options

So far I’ve just given you a pile of options, I may have even broadened the choice of networks for you.

Now that I’ve done that you’ll need to narrow them down again. Go back to the list you made earlier.

So far you’ve scored the networks you use for how effectively you are using them. You might want to add a few new networks to your list.

The next step is to score them for how closely they fit your audience. Once again give them a score out of 5. 5 being a perfect match 1 being a loose match.

Here’s my list:

Add how effective you are on a network to how well it matches your audience
Add how effective you are on a network to how well it matches your audience

Add the two scores together giving you a score out of 10.

Choose the 3 top scorers.

Or, if you are feeling brave

Choose the 2 top scorers and throw in a wild card like Chocolate Johnny did. Do you want to give Snapchat a try? Or Instagram?

These are the networks you should focus on first.

Try them out for a three month period and then review them to see if they are performing as expected.

What should you use each network for?

If you are going to build a strong strategy for the networks you have chosen you need to define what you are going to use each one for.

This is perhaps the hardest part of building your strategy. Consider the type of customer or the customer persona you are targeting with each, the type of content you will post and the specific goal.

For example, here’s a rough outline of my chosen networks:

Facebook

Page – Share useful information for my target market to consume, promote my blog content
Group – Build a community around small business blogging. Research the problems people have and build relationships with other small business bloggers.
Personal – Share behind the scenes of my day to day life (to a point). Connect with influencers and real life friends and family.

Twitter

Share useful content with my target market, build relationships with my customers and the people who influence them.

LinkedIn

Share more in-depth content that will appeal to marketers.
Build my reputation amongst peers in the industry and make connections with customers and the people who influence them.
Find podcast guests and contributors for my blog.

Overall goal

Build my email list, get people to visit my site so I can retarget them
Use my email lists ad re-marketing ads to sell my products and services

And that’s just the beginning. Get more granular about the type of people you are targeting with each social network. When you’ve done that turn the same process onto your blog and the different types of content you create there.

By focussing on less you will have a better idea of what’s working and what’s not. It’s easier to build a content strategy around the networks you choose and you’ll be spending your time wisely.

I’ve found that concentrating on one network at a time and spending time with it can be an enjoyable experience. I find myself doing better stuff and that horrible feeling of anxiety and overwhelm visits less.

If you need help putting your blogging and social media strategy together I can help so get in touch.

Your Challenge

  • Use the method above to score your social networks
  • Choose three you will focus on for the next three months
  • Decide what you will use each for

Let me know how you get on.

 

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

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How To Score Your Social Networks So You Know Which Ones To Use For Your Business
How To Score Your Social Networks So You Know Which Ones To Use For Your Business
Do People Know What You Do? A Business Bloggers Guide To Honing Your Message
Do People Know What You Do? A Business Bloggers Guide To Honing Your Message

Do you struggle to tell people what your business does? Does your blog and website make it clear? How can you hone your business message?

I hate it when I’m out socially and someone asks me what I do. I tend to mumble and say ‘aww it’s boring‘.

I think part of me is scared that if I start talking about my work, which I love, I’ll never stop. I’ll take a breath after a while, look at the person I’ve been talking to, notice the dead look in their eyes and realise that I’ve bored them to tears.

I sometimes envy people with jobs who can say quite quickly and easily what they do and move on.

Of course, telling people I meet socially is the least of my problems. Some of those people may be potential customers or know people who are but not many. It’s worse when I stumble at a networking meeting or when I’m face to face with someone that I can actually help.

I know I’m not alone. I meet business owners all the time that struggle with their message.

How to tell people what you do



As small business owners we tend to want lots of work. We grab anything that comes our way. We haven’t refined our message as we haven’t really thought about narrowing our focus. We haven’t thought about how we can become specialists who are really good at what we do.

I remember watching one of those television programmes where someone goes into a business and fixes it a few years ago.

I think it was ‘Mary Portas – Queen Of Shops.  If you’ve not heard of Mary, she helps retailers market their businesses. Her no-nonsense personality makes the show entertaining.

In the episode she was helping a boutique. But the boutique had too much stock. Amongst the fancy dresses, she found a lot of cheapo looking dressing gowns:

‘Why have you got those’ she asked

‘Well, there’s a hospital down the road and people kept coming in asking for dressing gowns so we got some’

That shopkeeper had done what a lot of us do, she’d found out random people, not necessarily her customers, wanted something so she started selling it.

She hadn’t thought about how the cheapo dressing gowns affected her brand. How the high-end dress buyer was going to be put off by the piles of cheap looking clothes in her store.

She’s a typical example of a business that hadn’t really thought about what they do. She could either be:

‘A boutique offering stylish quality clothing to middle aged women’

or

‘A thrift shop offering everything you need for your hospital visit’

It doesn’t matter which she chose but she could only be one. Trying to be both diluted her message.

Let’s keep our dress retailer in mind for this post and we’ll call her Charlotte.

Defining our message with blogging

Being able to define what we do is good for our online marketing and blog too. If you don’t specialise you’ll find yourself writing random posts related to your business instead of focussing in on the ones that deliver the best value to your ideal customer, the ones who will pay you the best money to do a good job.

Charlotte could expand awareness of her business by blogging. If she knows who she’s targeting she could write about:

  • The styles of the season
  • How to put a look together for a local event
  • What to wear to a wedding
  • News about the local area

or

  • What to pack for a hospital stay
  • The best gifts for hospital visits
  • News stories about the local hospital
  • Places to get breakfast near the local hospital
  • And those are just ideas off the top of my head.

If those two topics are mixed up in one blog it becomes confusing. Can you imagine if you landed on your favourite digital marketing blog one day only to see fashion tips?

What do people think you do?

If you are already in business the first step to defining what you do is to ask people.

Ask your community, your customers your friends to look at your website and blog and tell you what they think you do. Make it clear that you think your message might be muddled and you need them to be honest with their responses.

Brace yourself, you might be surprised by their answers.

Now you have some sort of idea about what people will think when they arrive on your site it’s time to fix it.

Charlotte cleared all the dressing gowns out of her store and went high end with her product range. She turned her boutique into an exclusive shop.

Now she can blog consistently, and on topic content for the people she is targeting with her range.

Know your customers

To chose the right clothing ranges Charlotte had to know who her customers were and what they wanted.

If you know who you want to buy from you marketing becomes a lot easier. It will help you with your business, your blogging and it will help you chose the social networks you spend your time on.

Find out more about creating persona’s here.

Charlotte was able to choose clothes for her shop that suited the women she wanted to walk in the door. They were big spenders so she didn’t need to sell the cheap dressing gowns just to put money in the till.

What do you enjoy doing?

We all chose to go into business, to abandon the 9-5 lifestyle in pursuit of something else. It could be freedom, flexible hours, ambition, wealth or something else. Whatever that mission is, we owe it to ourselves to be true to it.

The last thing we need is to be stuck running a business we hate, that makes the day drag, that is less enjoyable than having a job.

Take a look at your business and pick the bits you enjoy the most. The parts of your job that excite you and make you happy. The things you could do all day long and still be contented.

If you make these parts of your business the focus you’ll continue to be excited by your job and you’ll keep striving to deliver a good product or service.

Charlotte opened a boutique because she loved fashion. She didn’t love granny style dressing gowns. Somewhere along the line she’d forgotten about that.

But…

We also need to think about the money

What parts of your business bring you the best income. I’m rubbish at this. I’d quite happily do my job for free if I didn’t have to eat and keep my cats happy.

That doesn’t mean I work for free, I’m not even cheap. I do need to make money. There’s no point me working unless I can pay my bills and keep my cats in tins of food. The customers that I get are the ones that value my services and keep me challenged and happy.

There’s always a part of me that thinks I’d love to just sit at home and write blog posts but in reality I get a kick out of training, presenting, speaking and working with businesses that grow as a result.

It’s those jobs that bring me the money and massage my ego enough to keep me striving to be better.

Charlotte kept her till ringing by focussing on high-end customers who appreciated quality fashion. She’d have to sell hundreds of cheap dressing gowns for the price of one decent outfit.

Do you have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?

This is always a tough one. How can you be different when there are so many people doing what you do?

It’s easy to say that your point of difference is ‘good customer service’ or ‘we’ve been in business 100 years’.  But lots of people can claim the same.

If those are your USP’s you need to go all in. What do I mean by that?

You can’t be the only one with ‘good customer service’, no one is going to claim they have bad customer service. You need to have the best customer service.

If customer service is going to be your USP you need to look at ways you can prove it.

I’m sure you’ve heard stories about US department store Nordstrom who once refunded a customer for a set of tires even though they didn’t sell tires. Their mantra is that the customer is always right.

Nordstrom’s USP could quite rightly be ‘the best customer service’.

That’s the standard you need to aim for. Is your customer service so good you could become famous for it? Will customers tell stories about the wonderful things you’ve done for them?

When you settle on a USP you need to align your entire business with it. Your content, your staff, your culture your attitude. Only then is it bordering on unique.

If that sounds a bit too much aim for try something else. Do you have a system, a specific way or working that helps you spread your message?

If you are a marketer do you have a process that you take customers through that makes your consultancy different?
If you are a printer do you focus on price or graphic design? Can you turn your design into a process where you bring the customer along with you.?

Is Charlotte the only clothing store in her town that offers personal shopping?

Once you know your USP prove it with your content.

On your blog you can share:

  • Tutorials
  • Case studies
  • Advice
  • Insights
  • Knowlege

Create themes and categories for your blog revolving around the topics you specialise in. 

  • What stories can you tell relating to your specialities
  • What posts can you write that are helpful to your target market

If the personal touch is important to you make a video, record a podcast use live streaming.

All of your content should feed into your core products and the reasons people should come to you specifically for them.

Now grab a pen, pencil or device and jot down

  1. What your core products and services are
  2. Who your ideal customers are
  3. How you are different
  4. What content you can create to prove you are different

On your website

  • Make sure your home page tells people exactly what you do
  • Make sure your about page tells people how you can help them

Now show your site to an honest friend again and cross your fingers.

If you got it right they’ll be able to tell you what you do.

If you didn’t you need to start the process again.

Offline

Now back to that social occasion. You meet someone and they ask you what you do. What do you say?

You need to be able to tell them in less than a minute and you need to keep them interested.

Stand in front of your webcam, or put the selfie mode on your phone and practice. Do it over and over until you’ve got it right.

Blogging Challenge

If you are up for a challenge here’s what I want you to do:

  • Decide on an ideal customer
  • Choose the products or services you can offer them that you will enjoy delivering
  • Define or create a USP
  • Plan your blog content around your core products and your USP

 

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

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Do People Know What You Do? A Business Bloggers Guide To Honing Your Message
Do People Know What You Do? A Business Bloggers Guide To Honing Your Message
Marketing Automation - Not As Complicated As You Might Think
Marketing Automation – Not As Complicated As You Might Think

What is marketing automation? Is it complicated? Where do you start? That’s what we’ll talk about in this post.

As businesses we spend a lot of time doing routine work. We need customers and that or course should be our focus but can we spend our time more efficiently? Can we implement a system that nurtures customers from the moment they read a blog post until they buy?

That’s what I discuss with automation expert Diana Koshedzhiyska from Buzzfixer. She talks us through the basics, what is it, the systems we can use, the benefits and the automation flow… yeah it’s not as complicated as it seems… that we can follow to nail those sales.

Marketing Automation & Your Blog



The term ‘Marketing Automation’ is scary to many

I think the term marketing automation is scary for people because they think it should be easy and make your life easier but it turns out to be this complicated content driven monster in their life.

Can you briefly explain what marketing automation is?

What I do is more about small business automation, it’s focused around:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Nurturing leads
  • Scoring your leads
  • Sending them to the right sales person if you have a sales team
  • Managing relationships with your partners
  • Delivering content
  • Processing payments through your website
  • Creating landing pages
  • Assigning tasks to your team
  • Follow up tasks and outcomes

All those things you do on a daily basis in your business.

It’s more than just sending out emails to a specific audience at a specific time. It’s about saving hours from your work day or work week. That can be a lot of hours because you always do some repeated tasks.

The idea of small business automation and business automation is to take those repetitive tasks out and free up some time to allow you to communicate with your leads and potential customers.

Where did you pick up your enthusiasm for marketing automation?

It started in early 2013 when one of my clients wanted to explore that space.

Really early on when I started working with Ontraport I realised that marketing automation was a passion for me. I’ve always been more technical and it allows me to combine my passion for communication with the technical side. I don’t need to talk to thousands of people a day I can just automate that communication which was great.

So you have just one client to thank?

Yes Ian Cleary! Thank you Ian.

Automation isn’t something I’m really doing. I have a welcome email but should I be setting up a sequence of emails?

People are often told what they should have and they start thinking about the elements and sequence they need to build and create. They think about autoresponders and lead nurtures but I think that’s totally the wrong way to approach marketing automation or email automation.

What we do and what we ask our clients to do is to think about the user experience journey. What do they want the user to do? What are the steps and actions they want them to take and where do they want to lead them at the very end, the product?

So what I should do is look at my end goal. For example, I want people to hire me to consult for them and then work back from that point?

What I suggest is that if you have a product you should identify the main issues that this product is solving. Once you identify those small issues see if you can create a lead incentive for them. (more on lead incentives here)

Those are the bigger topics that you are handling. Those lead incentives then become content themes for blog posts you can create around them to promote them. Instead of starting with the blog post and thinking about what lead incentive can I prepare for this blog post you start with the product, with the end in mind.

You want people to purchase the product. Before they purchase they need to be convinced that they need it so we talk about the issue that they have and how we’re going to solve it.

In order to attract the people that have that issue we write a blog post that is pointing to that lead incentive. It’s like a pyramid.

There’s a user interaction map that you have to build for every type of product and promotion that you want to use marketing automation for.


Download your interaction map here


Your map will have the steps you want the user to take in order for them to purchase.

For example, they have to:

  • Visit the blog post
  • Download the lead incentive
  • Go to the sales page
  • Go to the order form page
  • To checkout
  • Then the thank-you page

If you think of those steps that the user has to take you’ll also identify the types of content that you need.

For example:

  • Cart abandonment emails
  • Nurture emails
  • Welcome emails
  • Content delivery

Then you can also identify where the drop off stage is. For example, someone didn’t purchase the product after they downloaded the lead incentive. What do we do then? Do we just leave them be or do we try to get to them in another way like using Facebook ads or another email series?

All of those interactions which can be really hard for people to think about because they always focus on sequences we’ve outlined them in a really clear and precise map that you can download here.

Can I do automation with the likes of Mailchimp or should I use something else?

You can do it with Mailchimp you just have to have the pro version (I think) that has trigger rules. For example “If this thing happens take this contact out of this list and move them to another”.

My problem with Mailchimp and other list based tools like Aweber is that they train you to use a list so you have to create a new list for each and every new download or product that you have. This means you never really know how many people are actually on your list because one contact can be in 10 or 20 lists.

You are overpaying and you are starting to think linear. You might think, this person I’m going to send to this blog post. But then what happens if they download or they don’t download? It’s those in-depth automation experiences and features that are missing. That’s why I don’t usually recommend Mailchimp, Aweber and list based tools.

You don’t always have to start with a really expensive automation tool especially if you have a small list or are just starting. There are good entry level products like ActiveCampaign  or ConvertKit  that really make you start to think in terms of marketing automation.

These are tools that don’t have lists, they have a database of the contacts. All of your contacts are stored in one place and you can see that they appear in different lists defined by the tasks you have assigned them.

This means you know that this person who is downloading this free lead gen guide is new to your list. They are completely new, they have never been on your list before and you need to prepare a welcome email and a nurture sequence for them.

If someone has been on your database for a while and has been through your nurture and welcome sequences you don’t want to put them there again. That will just irritate them and push them away from your end goal.

You need to send them the messages that they have to get and only send them those once.

Is automation software very expensive though?

ActiveCampaign starts at $9 a month for 500 contacts. It’s advanced it’s easy to use, it has great email templates and it has a lot of automation in it.

ConvertKit starts at $29 per month for up to 1000 contacts.

When we send our newsletters and marketing emails should we go for a fancy design or should we be writing what looks like a normal email?

We receive about 100 emails a day, at least I do, and we don’t read most of them.

If you are using Gmail and you have the different tabs: Primary, Promotions, Social you probably only have a few of those emails reaching your primary tab. You chose when and if to read the emails in the other tabs.

For email deliverability, if you put an image in your email like a header image, a test has shown that you’ll definitely end up in the promotions tab which means a lower number of people are going to read your emails.

The spam filters encourage us to write emails as if we are writing to a friend.

This means we shouldn’t change the font all the time, bold big sections of the email or alternate between bold and italics.

Think about the way you would write an email to a friend. I personally use a lot of paragraphs to separate the different ideas. I wouldn’t add lots of links, I wouldn’t be changing the colours or using lots of fonts.

You can use an image in your signature because most people do now, even in their personal email.

The more it looks like a standard email that you would write to a friend, your Mother or Grandmother the more likely it is to reach the inbox and the open rate will go up.

How can automation help Boris?

Regular listeners and readers of this podcast will be familiar with Boris. Boris owns an interior design shop. He sells furniture, carpets, wallpaper.

He wants to attract more large customers and that’s one of the reasons why he blogs. How can marketing automation help Boris?

I think the most important thing is that Boris already knows he wants to attract bigger clients. He knows he wants to market directly to them.

The first stage is for him to identify the issues that they have. For example, it might be hard for them to order a product in bulk and get it delivered by the date they need it.

So he can write about the size of orders he can deliver. For example, ‘We can deliver 2000 tables in 2 months’ or something similar.

Another issue might be, do you have it in more than one colour so that not every apartment we do looks the same?

By knowing your audience needs this specific thing or many things you can work your way from the real offering which is ‘Come to my shop and buy this stuff in bulk’ to the pain points that I can discuss with them in my nurture sequence.

What is the lead incentive I can use? Is it my catalogue? Is it a guide ‘How to design a block of apartments and make each one look different’?

If Boris wants to meet a lot of those interior designers who are working on the big apartment blocks a discount coupon of 10% won’t work for him. He’s working in big quantities. They’re not really concerned with price. They’re looking for someone who can work with them and fulfil their contract in a short time and deliver a good product.

You need to focus on the need your customer has. It’s not the same as the customer who just wants to furnish his bedroom. If I want to furnish my bedroom I’d get that coupon for 10% off. If I want 1000 beds I’m searching for a reliable partner and this is the type of communication and interaction you need to build with these people once you attract them.

In order to attract customers to the lead incentive you can create a series of blog posts that for example, you have 10 pieces of furniture for a living room and you want to show 20 types of living rooms you can create with those pieces of furniture.

These posts will attract the exact audience you want.

We have the blog posts, they attract people to the lead incentive. Then we retarget people who visit with Facebook ads if they don’t download it straight away?

Yes, that’s part of the automation. You can always retarget with ads. Another way to retarget is with your email automation system.

Most automation tools have a tracking script that allows you to track people who are already signed up to your content.

If you already downloaded something else but you haven’t seen this latest post or latest incentive I can use my automation system to see that you visited link X but you haven’t visited link Y. I decide that I want to promote this new blog post or new resource to you so I just send you an email. You don’t need to create a big audience for that. You don’t need to invest in ad copy or ad design and rely on Facebook. Instead, you directly contact those people who have shown they are interested in that.

So that’s what you do at each dropout phase of the process? If they are signed up you target them with email, if not you can retarget with ads?

Yes, when you target them with email it’s the same as a cart-abandonment sequence. That’s when someone has been on your sales page, has opened your checkout page but they haven’t purchased the product and haven’t been to the thank-you page.

When you know they haven’t been to the thank-you page you can set an automation rule to trigger and send them an email to see what happened. Did they get distracted?

A good cart-abandonment email can actually convert with 40%. 40% of the people who dropped off will come back and purchase it.

Think about it, the phone could have rung, it could be you didn’t have the money at this moment or you weren’t sure about the product.

At the moment you are already paying for your automation tool, you don’t have to pay for Facebook ads on top of that.

For Facebook ads to work in this kind of targeting you’ll need an audience of a certain size, a certain amount of traffic to those pages or they aren’t going to work.

This is why email is so much more powerful and that’s why tools like ActiveCampaign and Ontroport are more powerful than MailChimp. There isn’t a single step where you can’t do that email retargeting. You know when they have visited, when they have taken action. You know they have visited this page, downloaded this content and you can segment them based on their interactions.

What’s next? People have read the blog post, signed up for the lead incentive and now they’ve landed on a sales page?

You can send them to a sales page or to a thank-you page with links. It depends how you identify the leads at that very moment.

If you think you have a specific product that is related to your lead incentive and it’s not expensive, you can give it to them for a discount. Maybe 20% or 30% discount as a one time offer directly after they have downloaded that free lead incentive.

If Boris wants to convert designers what he can do is ask them ‘Do you want to order a hard copy of our catalogue for your business?’ and just ask them to pay for the shipping.

Or could he ask them to book an appointment?

He could. I’d recommend on the opt-in page for the lead incentive to add the phone number as a field on the form. Usually you don’t ask for too much information but when we’re talking business to business you do need to get information like company name and company phone number so you can call them.

In this case I’d just send them to a thank-you page. Give them some links to valuable blog post content or resources perhaps pages from the catalogue or portfolios. Then I’d continue with a nurture sequence before moving on to the hard sell period.

So that’s too early to go in with the sales pitch?

Yes, first you need to build some trust and engagement with these people so you’re not just saying: ‘Here’s your free thing, now let’s get on a call so you can buy this’. Instead, you’re saying ‘Let me show you why I’m the expert in this field’.

Now you can track if they’ve clicked on the links. If they have they are more interested, they haven’t opted out so far, I’m going to give them a call at the end of this nurture sequence.

Those who have just opened one or two links, that haven’t opened their emails, I’m going to send them to a longer nurture sequence later.

That could be three emails over the next seven days in addition to the original welcome email. In that sequence you show them why you are the good partner. You have to show them that this is what I’m good at and I’m going to show you why I’m good at it.

This isn’t just showing them what you know and that you can provide 1000 units in 2 months but how you can customise it for them. Showing your leads that you can help them achieve what they want to achieve.

At the end of the day, every business is about helping their target audience achieve their goals.

Getting started

I think the biggest issue with email automation is that people think they can just purchase a plug and play solution, they buy the tool and that’s when it all starts happening. It’s actually like the cookie monster but it’s a content monster. It wants to be fed content constantly. A lot of people get overwhelmed with that stuff and don’t know where to start.

If you need help the tool you choose will have recommended consultants or find someone who can guide you through the process. It will cost you a lot less money and time to do it with a little help. Learn how to do it the right way and you’ll see results faster.

Get your automation template

If you want to get started with marketing automation you can download Diana’s free flow chart that will help you design your process. You can download it here.

Blogging Challenge

Let’s start with the lead incentives that feed your content monster:

  • Decide who your customer is
  • What pain points do they have that you can address?
  • What lead incentive can you offer that answers their issues?
  • What blog topics can you cover related to each of those pain points?

About Diana

Helping small businesses integrate email and marketing automation into their business strategy, Diana Koshedzhiyska is a consultant that follows the core value – ‘do what you do best’. Her goal is to reduce the overwhelm and help business owners understand the underlying connection between strategy and software and teach them how to do things on their own.

Visit her website: www.buzzfixer.com

Follow her on Twitter:  @buzzfixer

 

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

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Marketing Automation - Not As Complicated As You Might Think
Marketing Automation – Not As Complicated As You Might Think

 

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
 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
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
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. 

 

 

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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
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

 

Before You Go

Do you believe in Karma? If so I recommend that you go over to iTunes or Stitcher and leave a review on this podcast. You never know what wonderful things might happen in return.

Here’s how to review a blog using iTunes:

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

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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
Good Bloggers Read - How To Hunt Down Quality Content To Inspire & Motivate Your Writing
Good Bloggers Read – How To Hunt Down Quality Content To Inspire & Motivate Your Writing

Content discovery is an important part of what we do as bloggers and marketer. Finding great content that inspires can make you a better writer, a better marketer and a better curator. But where do we start?

Small business bloggers face a problem. A good writer should read, a good marketer should curate content but how do we find content to read and curate?

A few things happened over the Christmas break. If I didn’t know better I’d have said it was a cosmic sign.

I finally got to read Stephen King’s book “On Writing”. In it he talks at length about the importance of reading if you are going to write.

Then I got an email from Chris Brogan titled ‘Fill The Jukebox’. In it he suggests amongst other things:

“1.) Unsubscribe (in all forms) from anything that’s not moving your goals forward. “News” is stupid. “Keeping up” is stupid. Pushing yourself forward is the real work. Growth.
2.) Subscribe to newsletters (and blogs and sites) that grow your mind IF they are pushing you toward your goals.”

If you’re not subscribed to Chris’s emails, why aren’t you? Sign up here.

The third thing wasn’t really a happening at all. I finally got so annoyed with the disruptive ads on one particular site that I subscribed to that I unsubscribed. It felt great.

Whilst I was there I decided to have clear out of all the sites I subscribed to that no longer or rarely published anything worth reading.

It felt great.

Stephen King is right, you have to read to become a better writer and I read a lot, I read books, every morning I read the blogs and news sites I subscribe to. Reading helps me write.

I also know that Chris is right. The low-quality content from the blogs I subscribe to was getting in the way. After my clear out I’d open up my Feedly (more on that in a while) and instead of hundreds of new stories there were less than 50. It was much easier for me to find what I wanted to read.

But there was a hole. Now I’d cleared out the rubbish I wanted to fill the space with more, better quality content. So I went hunting.

I thought I’d share my content discovery process with you today.

How can you find interesting, inspiring and valuable content, not just articles but videos, podcasts and what should you do with it when you do?

Content discovery – How To Find Content That Rocks



When I started putting this post together I realised that it could quite easily end up being a long list of tools. I’ve collated quite a list. I’m going to highlight my favourited below but after the meaty bit of the post I’ll add the full list.

Before you start looking for content you need to ask yourself a few questions.

1. What do you want to read/watch/listen to?

  • Content that will enhance your life?
  • Are you a news junkie who needs to always be up to date? (Whatever Chris Brogan says this is important to some businesses)
  • Motivating, inspiring and really useful content?

You might want be looking for all three of these types of content, just one type or something completely different.

The purpose of this exercise is to define what you are looking for before you start searching.

2. What are you going to do with that content you find?

  • Are you just looking to read and be inspired?
  • Are you looking to up-skill and learn?
  • Are you looking to break out of your bubble and find content that challenges your ideas and opinions?
  • Are you looking for content that you can curate and share on social media sites?
  • Is it something else?

Armed with the answers to these questions we can go hunting and know exactly what we will choose to follow and what we don’t

Google Alerts & Feedly

Google Alerts has been my starting point for finding new blogs and content creators for as long as I can remember.

If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a tool from Google that sends you search results relating to a specific keyword or phrase every day.

Go to the site, enter a keyword of phrase that you are interested in and it will send you a daily email with a list of articles and webpages that it has found.

Google Alerts
Use Google alerts to find stories relating to the topics you are interested in

This is handy but you’ll find your email inbox fills up pretty quickly and you’ll stop looking.

To get value from Google alerts you should pair it with an RSS reader. Enter Feedly.

Feedly lets you subscribe to the results that Google alerts finds. Instead of having to wade through all those emails you can visit the Feedly site, or access the results via their app.

Find out more about Feedly & Google Alerts here.

Google Alerts will find a lot of results, it’s your job to find the gems.

And once you’ve found a gem, a blog or website that produces consistently good content you can subscribe to that blog in Feedly.

I recommend setting up separate folders in Feedly for Google Alerts and the blogs you want to read on a regular basis. This way you can filter the results to just the cool blogs if you are overwhelmed with stories from the alerts.

Create different folders for different content in Feedly
Create different folders for different content in Feedly

That’s the problem with Google Alerts, the sheer volume of results. What you need if you want to retain your sanity is a tool that can help you discover the really good content.

A tool with an algorithm that understands what you want.

Let’s start with the obvious one

Facebook

Our Facebook feeds are designed to show us the content that is most interesting and relevant to us. We can subscribe to as many business pages, blog pages, and news pages as we like, Facebook will only show us what it considers the best.

Even if our feed is full of amazing interesting and inspiring stories we don’t always have the time to read them. We’re often taking a sneaky look at Facebook when we should be doing something else, or passing the time whilst we wait in a queue. We are already feeling guilty about spending time on Facebook when we’re supposed to be doing something else so we scroll by.

But don’t. Before you scroll use Facebook save. When you sit down to read your quality content it will be there under the save tab.

Save links from the Facebook feed
Save links from the Facebook feed

 

Find saved links in the save tab
Find saved links in the save tab

If you find a site producing consistently valuable content add it to your Feedly account so you don’t have to rely on Facebook showing you content from that site again.

Pocket

Twitter doesn’t have an inbuilt save function but ‘Pocket’ will integrate with your browser and phone and allow you to bookmark links from Tweets and other pages you visit to read later.

The browser extension for the web adds a Pocket icon under your Tweets, just click it to save a tweet containing an article to your Pocket.

Use Pocket to bookmark articles from Twitter
Use Pocket to bookmark articles from Twitter

 

I love this tool, whenever I have a spare moment I can dip into the content I’ve saved either via their website or the mobile app and know there is something worth reading.

Pocket isn’t just for bookmarking, it’s recently added an explore tab that lets you find articles that are of interest to you.

I thought I’d give it a try. When I told it I was interested in ‘Blogging’ it found me a bundle of articles, some were quite old but many were well worth the read. I think I may have found some new content sources already.

Use Pocket 'explore' to discover articles related to your interests
Use Pocket ‘explore’ to discover articles related to your interests

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a surprising source of interesting reads. Because users can now effectively blog on LinkedIn using their publishing tool you’ll find a lot of content there that doesn’t appear elsewhere.

Click the list icon to the left of the search bar and then type your topic into search. You’ll get a list of posts relating to your search term.

Find LinkedIn posts related to your topic of interest
Find LinkedIn posts related to your topic of interest

LinkedIn automatically orders results by relevance but this can show you some out of date results. You can change the filter to recency if you want to see more.

If you find someone who is posting good stuff you can follow them or add them to your connections.

Medium

If you haven’t discovered Medium yet take a look at it now. Medium is a cross between a blogging platform and a social network.

You can search results by topic and you’ll find some interesting stuff. When you find something you like you can read it now, share it on Twitter or Facebook or save it to read later.

Here are a couple of the stories it found related to blogging:

Medium results for 'Blogging'
Medium results for ‘Blogging’

If you are on the look out for something completely random ‘Reading Roulette’ in the sidebar offers random selections from the site.

If you find someone producing consistently good content you can follow them and see their content in your feed when you log in.

Nuzzle

Nuzzle is a content discovery tool that hooks into your Twitter and Facebook accounts and identifies articles that are getting shared by your friends there.

The idea is that these stories will be more relevant to you because your friends are recommending them.

Results are prioritised by the number of friends sharing those stories. I was surprised to discover the popular stories I was missing.

Here’s what it has for me this morning:

Nuzzel finds articles your friends share on social
Nuzzel finds articles your friends share on social

You can broaden your results by selecting stories from friends of friends or narrow it by selecting a Twitter list.

Making time

That’s just a small selection of the content discovery tools available. I’ll link to more in the show notes. But the sheer volume of tools presents us with another problem.

How do you find time to log into all these websites?

The first thing to remember is that we are using these tools to help us identify the blogs we want to subscribe to on a more regular basis. Once you’ve found the good ones you can add them to Feedly. Your Feedly account will become your daily content newspaper. I read mine over breakfast.

Now you need to decide how often you are going to look at the other tools and sites. It doesn’t have to be daily, if you looked every day you’d have little time for anything else!

I recommend allocating time once a week or once a month to look through these sites.

Once a month…

When I cleared out my Feedly account after getting Chris’s email I found blogs I’d been subscribed to for years, that had been uninteresting to me for years, whose content I’d scroll through and tut as I’d pass.

Avoid making my mistake and schedule a monthly clear out. We wouldn’t let a pile of old newspapers fill our homes, we wouldn’t keep the junk mail that comes through our letter boxes so why do we allow our digital feeds to fill up?

Find time once a month for a clear out and find new and interesting content to add to your feeds.

What should you do next?

Well obviously you should read the content you find. Don’t feel like you have to read it all, just the stuff that appeals to you the most. Allow yourself to be inspired by it, if Stephen King is right you’ll become a better writer.

If you’re generous you might want to share the good stuff too. Show your followers that you find and read good valuable content that they might like.

And finally, if you are short of blog content why not start a weekly roundup post, sharing your top reads of the week.

I hope I’ve inspired you in the same way Stephen King and Chris Brogan inspired me. In fact I’m hoping you’ll add me and this podcast and my blog to your Feedly so you don’t miss an episode or post.

Your Challenge

As I was preparing to record this I saw a Tweet from Rebekah Radice, it linked to the results of a survey they’d done over on Post Planner that discovered that

“29% of respondents said that finding and sharing quality content” was a challenge.

Use the tools I’ve outlined in this podcast, in the show notes and of course Post Planner to help you overcome that challenge.

Content Discovery Tools

As promised, here’s a long list of content discovery tools recommended to me.

Pocket

Drumup

Scoop.it

Medium

Bloglovin

GetCrate.co

Flipboard

Grapevine6

ContentGems

PostPlanner

Nuzzel

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

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Before You Go

Do you believe in Karma? If so I recommend that you go over to iTunes or Stitcher and leave a review on this podcast. You never know what wonderful things might happen in return.

Here’s how to review a blog using iTunes:

 

Good Bloggers Read - How To Hunt Down Quality Content To Inspire & Motivate Your Writing
Good Bloggers Read – How To Hunt Down Quality Content To Inspire & Motivate Your Writing