The 7 Things Successful Content Marketers Do Differently.

Do you ever question whether you’re doing all you can for your content strategy? Do you get the sense that your peers are outperforming you?
The 7 Things Successful Content Marketers Do Differently
Entrepreneurs are usually a brand’s first marketer. On average, about 28 percent of an organization’s entire marketing budget is spent on content marketing, making it one of the most significant marketing strategies in use: In fact, most proponents will tell you it also comes with one of the industry’s highest average returns on investment (ROI).
Obviously, however, not all content marketers are equally successful. You may receive 28 percent of your company’s marketing budget, but how effective are you at utilizing that budget?
I’m fortunate to be immersed in the content-marketing industry, with a content-marketing agency of my own and connections to some of the brightest minds in today’s content world. And I’ve noticed that successful content marketers do these seven things differently from everyone else:

1. Audience research

Everything starts with an understanding of your audience, and the most successful content marketers are the ones who take this phase seriously. Most content marketers start out with a basic customer persona, or do some light research to determine who’s most likely to visit their site, but successful content marketers want to know everything about their demographics.

They want to know their needs, their wants, how they spend their time and what they want in the content they read — both in terms of subject matter and tone. Most importantly, successful content marketers don’t base their research on their initial assumptions; instead, they challenge those assumptions to resist “confirmation bias” and to get closer to the truth.

2. Investment

Remember that 28 percent figure mentioned earlier? Successful content marketers spend that money differently. They invest in smaller quantities of higher-quality content, compared to their mediocre counterparts. So, if you have $2,800 to spend, it’s better to invest $700 each into four standout white papers than it is to invest $50 each into 56 “decent” blog articles.

Why? Because a disproportionately small number of articles will be responsible for getting the majority of links and shares. It doesn’t help that competition in the content space is increasing, and that consumers are tired of lackluster content.

3. Networking

Some content marketers spend all their time producing, focused on tasks that will eventually get pieces created, published or syndicated. This may seem like the most productive use of time, but successful content marketers also make time for professional networking.

There are many possible approaches to content marketing, and there are no right or wrong answers. Learning from others, working with guest bloggers, widening your network of publishing contacts and gaining insights about similar industries are all essential if you want to make the biggest impact.

4. Value maximization

Would you rather pay $100 for a single meal, or $100 for a service that delivers fresh food to your door for three meals a day for the next week? The answer here is obvious because the cost difference is so dramatic; but the point is that successful content marketers know how to stretch their dollars and earn the most value for every piece of content they create.

They prioritize the production of evergreen content, and transform it, syndicate it and revisit it frequently to get the most out of every dollar they spend.

5. Diversification

Successful content marketers don’t stick with one area of expertise, even if they’ve already become successful with it. They try to diversify the types of content they produce, including visual formats like images and videos; and they branch out to recruit guest posters from similar niches and outside authorities.

This approach keeps readers interested, but also protects marketers from sudden downturns or changes in reader interest.

6. Experimentation

When most content marketers find a pattern that works, they stick with it. For example, if they produce a certain number of posts per week, in a certain style, with a certain subject matter, they’re likely to replicate that approach, ad infinitum, so they can maintain that ROI.

For successful content marketers, though, maintaining that positive ROI isn’t enough — they want to actively improve it. That’s why you’ll find that most successful marketers experiment on a regular basis, throwing in topics they aren’t sure will work, or new content formats that their audiences wouldn’t typically expect. It’s risky, and it doesn’t always pay off, but it keeps them from falling into a rut.

7. Analysis

Finally, successful content marketers don’t judge their success based on subjective factors. They rely on the numbers. They rely on analytics to inform them of whether their strategy is working. They don’t just believe their readers are enjoying their content; they ask them directly. They don’t base their opinions on the most glamorous or positive metrics they find; they dig deep, scrutinize their assumptions and prove their results, positive or negative, before making the appropriate changes to move forward.

Do you ever question whether you’re doing all you can for your content strategy? Do you get the sense that your peers are outperforming you? This list should help you identify some of the root causes for those sentiments. How many of these strategies are you regularly pursuing, and how many came as a surprise to you?

One of my favorite things about content marketing is its long-term nature. What you do in the span of a week pales in comparison to what you do in the span of years. There’s always time to make adjustments to your approach, so take this time to audit your own strategies and join the ranks of the best in class.

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5-Step Guide to Crowdsourcing Like a Pro.

Make sure your audience loves your product before you even make it.
5-Step Guide to Crowdsourcing Like a Pro
Crowdsourcing is not a new concept in marketing.Entrepreneurs have been asking consumers to help us co-create products and programs for years. You could even argue that the age-old focus group (where we watch consumers sitting in a closed room behind a two-way mirror answering questions about proposed ideas) is a form of crowdsourcing.

Get early input.

As you start to think about your new initiative, make sure you get feedback from your customers ahead of time. Talk to them and share your thoughts. Listen to how they describe their needs and make sure that what you are planning helps them. While this might not be crowdsourcing in the traditional sense, you are in fact getting all the benefits by baking their input into your plans. I can guarantee that the information will make you think and execute differently, potentially saving you pain later.

Employee sourcing.

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Don’t forget that you are sitting on a valuable crowdsourcing resource right in your office . . . your employees. Engage them in the development process since they are on the front lines of your business. They probably know your customers better than you do, so pick their brains. Ask for their input and have them co-create with you. The program will be much more valuable as a result.

Look at several create options.

Don’t just create one option. Always look at two or three concepts and work them simultaneously to see which one will ultimately be the best.

It’s simple:Keep your options open, and keep a few different versions of your initiative alive throughout the development process until you are sure which one is right. Then, when you’re sure you’ve picked the best option, you can pursue it with confidence.

Test along the way.

It’s vitally important to continue to get feedback as you develop your idea. Show your customers and employees how your programs are progressing. Ask their opinions and find out if it’s hitting the mark while you are still shaping what it looks like. The end result will be much better as a result.

Course correct.

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Even once you launch a new product, service or campaign, it’s still not over. You can continue to crowdsource your customers and your employees to see if it’s working the way you planned. Ask if it’s delivering how you anticipated. Social media is a perfect tool for this.

Then, don’t be afraid to make changes in real time. Fix what’s not working and amp up what is. By doing so, you can reduce the risk that your efforts will go unnoticed and improve the odds that you get the results you want.

 

4 Reasons to Consider a Domain Name Change for Your Startup.

New top-level domains are going to be the digital real estate of the future.
4 Reasons to Consider a Domain Name Change for Your Startup
I remember back when a friend asked if I’d like to buy a domain name. I had no idea what that meant, so I turned down his offer.
Later, I worked for a company purchased its iconic domain name for a reported $9 million.
That’s when it became very clear to me that an incredibly brandable domain is one of the keys to a successful business,these days the best keyword domains in .COM are sold out.
And that’s why I believe that new top-level domains are going to be the digital real estate of the future.
After spending 14 years in internet marketing working for several companies.I’ve seen many signs pointing to the value of new exact-match domains.

For instance, a recent study found that choosing a relevant domain extension can potentially help a website rank well for specific keywords, resulting in dollars saved on paid marketing.

Ultimately, whether domains end in .COM, .INFO,.FORSALE, or .LIVE, they all stand on equal ground when it comes to SEO performance. I have to believe that Google’s search results will always value high-quality domain names.

Expectations of the online user experience are constantly changing as we get savvier about navigating to exactly the things we want.And relevant TLDs are going to be a big part of that.Of course, you can always pay for online advertising and search-engine placement,but the exact-match domain owners will have a huge advantage over the competition.

The reason: A high-quality, exact-match domain means we won’t have to pay to get as many clicks.

Brandable new domains confer some amazing advantages to successful businesses, including:

1. Flexibility in choosing a name

The pool of short, memorable .COM domains is shrinking rapidly, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t secure an amazing name for your business. Overnight, new domains have increased the availability of possible names a hundredfold.

2. More memorable names

The potential uses for meaningful new domains, like .FORSALE, .SOCIAL, and .MARKET, are virtually limitless. Every word in your domain can and should be relevant to your brand.

3. Increased web traffic

When you use meaningful, relevant terms in a domain, people will be more engaged with your brand. That’s going to help drive more traffic to your site, and will boost your search result rankings.

4. Reduced online marketing costs

Because new domains drive organic web traffic to your site, you’ll be less reliant on expensive search engine placement and other online ads.

 

3 Simple Ways to Increase Conversions on Your Website.

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You’ve put in a lot of work to get visitors to your website. You’ve created a simple, engaging website that is easy for your customers to navigate. You’ve incorporated responsive design to ensure that it’s mobile friendly. Keywords have been sprinkled throughout the copy to give the site a boost in SEO rankings. Now all that’s left is to sit back and watch the conversions come in.

But what if they aren’t?

All that work will start to feel like a waste of time if your customers are simply coming to the site, looking around for a few minutes and then moving on to the next one. You have to be able to get them to take that next step. But how?

Sure… there’s a real art and science to optimizing a sight for conversions — and websites that are converting at the highest levels usually earn this status through lots of spit testing and lots of hard work!

However, there is good news. Paying attention to these three best practices will make sure you’re headed down the right path without getting too far into the weeds!

1. Let prospects “dip their toe in the water.”

Trust isn’t built in a day. You know this to be true, so why do you expect customers to hand over their money the first time they meet you online? Instead of driving customers to a landing page designed to get a sale, drive them to a page that drives them to an opt-in form. This gives them time to become familiar with you and your brand before you pop the question.

Why does this work? Well, people like to try before they buy, so to speak. Getting a customer to make a small commitment like opting in to receive your newsletter of free video tips helps warm them up to a bigger commitment like making a purchase. This tactic plays off our human nature, and that’s why it’s so successful.

2. Don’t go overboard on your CTAs.

We all know that “calls to action” are important to getting customers to convert. These are the little messages built into your website that tell your customers what to do — what action you want them to take on your site. So if you want to increase your chances for conversion, logic would tell you to increase the number of CTAs on each page.

Five CTAs has to be better than having just one, right? Not necessarily. For starters, having three or four different CTAs on your website can overwhelm and confuse your prospects — should they click to learn more or sign up for a free trial? Too many options can leave a customer wondering what it is that they want. Not to mention it can start to look a little desperate on your part. Keep things simple with just one (max two) quality calls to action per page.

3. Share customer testimonials.

People can be rather skeptical, especially if something seems too good to be true. So how do you convince someone who is uneasy or unsure to give your product/service a try? You offer them proof. Social proof is invaluable to the customer buying journey. The latest data shows that 63 percent of customers are more likely to buy from a site that features reviews.

Reach out to some of your best and loyal customers to see if they would be interested in leaving your business a review online. You can then take their reviews and feature your favorite quotes on your website, either on a separate testimonials page or by weaving them into your website copy about your services.

How to Make Big Bucks While Selling Your Products for Free.

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Marketing funnels are very effective at converting your website visitors into paying customers

There are several types of marketing funnels, and one that is gaining a lot of popularity is the free plus shipping model, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You offer a product for free and only charge for shipping. It’s an extremely effective way to upsell — a customer is more likely to justify an additional purchase since they are receiving something for free.

Why does a ‘free plus shipping’ funnel perform so well?

It’s simple: Consumers have a hard time turning down something for free. Now, not every customer is going to convert on the upsell, so it’s important to break even on your free plus shipping product offering (by making sure you make back your production costs and marketing on shipping charges), or at the very least experience a minimal loss.

Even if a customer doesn’t convert on the upsell, though, you still add a subscriber to your list that you can convert into more sales in the future. One of my side-ventures, a teeth-whitening brand, is about to launch a free plus shipping promotion. Here are the five components we used to maximize this strategy and create a successful funnel.

1. Determine where you are going to find your customers.

Your funnel will never be effective unless you are constantly pushing prospects through it, so it’s important to identify where you will find your customers and how you will lure them in. Paid social media is usually a great place to start.

As an example we are going to focus on Instagram, using a combination of paid ads and influencer marketing to draw attention to our offer. Consumers will be required to follow our account, like the post that is announcing the offer and tag three friends in the comments. Once those tasks are completed, they will be sent a coupon code to use on our website, bringing the cost of the product in the promotion down to $0.

2. Identify an ideal product to give away for free.

You want to identify a product that has a low manufacturing cost for two reasons. First, you will be giving it away for free, and second, you will need to manufacture a large quantity in bulk prior to launching your offer — running out of product during a free plus shipping campaign would be disastrous. You also want to use a smaller item to keep your shipping cost down. A high in-store retail price is also important, as is mass market appeal.

For our offer, we will be giving away one of our teeth whitening pens. It’s small in size, has mass appeal and a high enough retail price to make a free offer irresistible. You never want to give away your main product, or the best-selling item in your inventory. Your free offer should always be something to trigger upsells, which brings us to the next point.

3. Match your free product with an irresistible upsell offer.

It’s important that you match your free product with a good upsell offer. The goal is to convert as many of your free plus shipping orders as possible, so it has to be a perfectly paired product.

Our product line is very simple. We have a teeth whitening kit, a teeth whitening pen and a combo that includes both. Since our free plus shipping offer is the teeth whitening pen, our upsell offer is the teeth whitening kit, giving the consumer the option to purchase our best-selling item at a discounted price.

4. Create an up-sell offer on your check-out page.

There are several plugins, apps and extensions that allow you to create an upsell offer. You will need to see what is available that’s compatible with your e-commerce platform, whether that is WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce or something else.

You have a couple different options as to when you can present the offer — either as the customer is adding your free plus shipping offer to the shopping cart or immediately after completing the purchase.

For our offer, we will be presenting customers with a one-click upsell, offered immediately after completing our free plus shipping offer. This way, we won’t scare off any consumers before they complete the initial offer that brought them to us. As soon as they complete the offer, a popup presents the upsell offer and allows them to claim it with a single click. There is no need to enter billing or payment information — and since the upsell includes free shipping, there isn’t any barrier to prevent the consumer from claiming the offer instantly.

5. Promote your offer aggressively.

This goes full circle, back to the first point above — where you are going to find your customers. It doesn’t matter what promotional vehicle you are going to use, from influencer marketing to social media marketing or something else — you have to be prepared to promote your offer aggressively.

Most free plus shipping offers are for a very limited amount of time, so be sure to map out your entire marketing and promotion strategy in advance. A lot of it depends on the inventory available for the promotion. For our promo, we will be pushing it aggressively for 30-days, as we anticipate our on-hand supply will satisfy the demand.

How Often Should You Send Marketing Emails?

There’s no magic number. Find your sweet spot.
How Often Should You Send Marketing Emails?
Timing is of huge importance when it comes to email marketing. With click-through rates (CTR) as low as 2 percent for some industries, one of the best ways to improve results is by scheduling your emails and knowing how often to send them.
Usually,people hate receiving promotional emails unless they subscribed to the service or the email contains something “beneficial” for them. However, one major factor that impacts how someone feels about receiving an email is the timing.
If you keep bombarding your email list with emails, whether promotional or non-promotional, your subscriber list will begin to shrink at a rapid pace. In fact, 69 percent users unsubscribe due to “too many emails.”
Knowing the right number of emails can be very difficult, especially when experts suggest you to communicate more with your customers. Sales funnel specialist Jeremy Reeves advises businesses to stay in touch with their customers and communicate more often. But how often is too often? According to Direct Marketing Association’s National Client Email report, most marketers (35 percent) send two to three emails a month. Nine percent of marketers send six to eight emails a month, and 19 percent send just one email a month.
However, this is just a marketer’s perspective. Take a closer look at customers, and you’ll realize the need to send more emails.
According to a survey, 61 percent of users prefer receiving a promotional email at least once a month. Surprisingly, 15 percent of users say they wouldn’t mind receiving a promotional email every day. The same study concluded that 91 percent of users have no issues with promotional emails. However, experts believe such emails should be well targeted.
These numbers tell you the difference between expectations and results. However, remember that no rules are etched in stone when it comes to the frequency of promotional emails. According to these numbers, an email a week would do well. However, you need to find your own sweet spot.

Here are a few factors to consider:

Industry stats.

Look at your competitors, and see how many emails they send in a week. Also check their return-on-investment, and consider learning from them. However, do not blatantly copy their strategy. They may be sending more emails because they have a huge number of subscribers or because they have a specific goal. Your strategy should be customized for your needs.

Nature of product or services.

The number of emails you send largely depends on what you’re offering to your customers. For example, if you’re selling air conditioners, you would be sending more emails in the summers than in winter. On the other hand, if you’re running a news agency, you would be sending daily emails to keep people informed.

Nature of the email.

You should know the goal of your email. Are you trying to make people purchase a product, or are you trying to make them fill out a form? According to reports, your first email has the highest CTR, which means you have one chance to make it right. Try to come to the point in the first email, unless you’re building curiosity.

Here are some more tips on how to set frequency:

  • Let your customers choose how many emails they wish to receive. You can have this option when they signup for newsletters, or you can get this information by starting a poll.
  • Pay attention to figures. See your opening rates and how many subscriptions and unsubscriptions you’re getting. These numbers will help you bring changes to your plan, if necessary.
  • It is important to understand the fundamentals of engagement. If you have low engagement rates, you may improve your customer engagement rate by increasing or decreasing the number of emails sent per week. Engagement is basically getting your desired result out of an email. You need to be sure of the purpose of an email before you send it. Not all emails are sent with a purchase intent. Some emails can be non-promotional, just to add goodwill. However, make sure all your emails add value to your readers. Do not send an email that’s spammy or does nothing for the user.

Around 32 percent of users unsubscribe due to “irrelevant or useless” email. Do not make the mistake of sending emails just for the sake of it, unless you wish to have fewer subscribers.

The takeaway.

Having one answer to this complex question isn’t possible since businesses are different with different goals and clients. You need to stick to the testing approach and see what works and what doesn’t work for you. A/B testing can be applied as well, but remember to pay attention to all important figures.

Learn the Human Approach to B2B Selling.

You may not need a sales script after this.
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Being good at selling plays a crucial part in your company’s growth, but getting rejected and shut down isn’t always easy. But, what if you changed your approach? What if you left your sales scripts, hidden agendas and elevator pitches behind?

1. Don’t be a B2B robot.

The problem with having a script is that it’s going to be all about you. It’s going to be in your language, your acronyms, about your company, about what makes you different — and you know what? Your prospects don’t care.

People don’t care about you until there’s a reason to care about you. You’ve got to show them that you’re interested in their business, what they want to achieve, what their life is like, what drives them nuts and try to help them with that.

Build a dialogue so that you can have a relationship with the person on the other end of a phone call or an email exchange. It’s not a transaction.

Certainly, every sale is different. The money is usually in the long-term, not in the short-term. If you just want to sell encyclopedias and you never want to see your prospects again, having a great pitch is probably pretty good, but that’s not what a lot of people are doing today. Most of the transactional dialogue-based selling has moved to ecommerce. The real market today is for business-to-business people who can start a dialogue, build the relationship, help them solve a problem and ultimately work together.

What your potential client is looking for is somebody who’s going to help them, not somebody who’s the best at reciting an elevator pitch.

2. Go from unknown to known.

The next step is to find a way for prospects to like you. Guess how people like each other in the physical world? Is it somebody who asked to borrow $20? Or is it somebody who loans you $20? Exactly, it’s the giving.

Giving and reciprocation, quid pro quo, give and take, whatever you call it, is the way that people interchange trust and start to build a relationship. You’re not going to give prospects $20, but you can give them something that they think of as valuable. Offer a case study, a compliment, feedback, a request for their expertise — and now you’ve got a dialogue going.

Break down the process of pitching your potential clients into tiny baby steps so you can see what to do and what typically goes wrong. At each step, think about how to prevent those steps from going wrong and how to keep the momentum going.

At each step, you need to know which direction to take. It can’t just be a response. That’s service. Service people respond. Proactive people guide the client through this decision-making process, but the seller has to know what that is.

3. There are no real budgets.

Typically, decision makers in a company don’t have a real budget. Burns has been selling million-dollar deals for 20 years. He was selling stuff nobody knew they needed. There was never budget for any of it.

What you want to do is look at the company. Is it hiring? Is it laying off? Is it public? Is it well-funded? If it is, the decision maker can afford $100,000. To a company like that $100,000 is noise. So, get away from a limiting belief like that one.

You can’t ask potential clients, “Do you have money for this?” They’re going to lie to you if they don’t and if they do they’re going to tell you it’s going to be a lot less than they really do and you will come in under budget.

What you want to do is find out their level of interest. Is it a real problem they want to solve? Is there a date associated with it? What is the outcome they want from it? What prompted them to contact you? What did they like about what you’re doing?

You get the dialogue started and you guide them through the process. That’s how you qualify people.