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.

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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.

4 Content Marketing Lessons to Learn from everyday examples like Netflix

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If there’s any content marketing prodigy that you should pay particular attention to, it’s Netflix.

Very few companies have led the spawn of an entire industry, and still managed to stay ahead of the curve. The streaming video service closed 2016 with 93.8 million subscribers, up nearly 20 million from the year prior.

Its strategy is very tactical, and it plans to keep it that way. Have you ever heard the company publicly speak to its methods of exposure? Netflix is extremely covert in the area of marketing; you’d almost think it’s Magic Leap.

Even if you’re not in the media business, there’s a lot to learn about how Netflix approaches content and goes about amassing an audience. It is an excellent example of content marketing leveraging its product, data and social media. Here are four takeaways every content marketer can learn from Netflix.

Build the experience through standalone products.

Seemingly, Netflix doesn’t place the most value in traditional marketing. Its approach is much more innovative, even to the extent of creating standalone products to extend the experience of a new show. In the era of 360 video and artificial intelligence, no idea is too large. Netflix is not afraid of walking this line and more often than not, it provides a tremendous return on investment.

For example, Netflix recently commissioned the third season of the highly touted Black Mirror, which explores the scary possibilities of technology. To promote the show, Netflix actually created the app Rateme that was the conflict and downfall of the first episode of the season. It did something similar with a Stranger Things web tool, which allows users to create content with the show’s font. Also on the list are Netflix socks, among other consumer products that make light of the culture of its dedicated audience.

Content is not distinct to the confines of an article or a video. Many times, content marketing is a product or a standalone experience that gets the conversation going and creates the opportunity for the audience to get involved in the show’s universe.

Invest in original content.

Netflix invests in original content so much that it can almost market itself. Entrepreneurs and marketers specifically should learn to invest effort and finances into the kinds of content that have proven successful with their audience.

In the last three months of 2016, Netflix added 1.43 million new U.S. paying subscribers. In 2017, Netflix plans to spend nearly $6 billion on content. For context, ESPN spent $ 7.6 billion on content in 2016.

Such an investment may be necessary for the growing competition of streaming video services, but solidifying a budget to create quality content is not a strategy that is unique to just media companies.

Data is certainly the differentiator.

We all know data matters, but are you sure you’re leveraging the right metrics? Netflix uses data to predict behavior and to help create a better experience, ultimately inspiring a lot of its marketing.

Inside the product, Netflix tracks your browsing behavior; what time you watch content; when you pause, rewind or fast forward; and what kind of content is viewed on which day. Using this data to understand consumer behavior, it can both suggest the right content in the product that makes you stick around longer, as well as adjust its marketing content to fit your interests.

Netflix used big data to promote House of Cards. User behavior was very much the deciding factor on its series rollout of marketing collateral.

Before a series is released, there’s typically one or two trailers made to build the buzz. For House of Cards, Netflix made 10 different cuts of the trailer and served you a trailer based on your previous viewing behavior. If you watched a lot of Kevin Spacey, you saw the trailer that included more of his scenes. If you happened to actively rate and suggest David Fincher’s work as a director, you were shown a different trailer.

Through Netflix’s algorithms, it can determine who might be interested in new shows and can cater content that will be best received, according to its data. How are you using data to steer your marketing content for better engagement?

Netflix’s success in original programming is not by accident; its data having a large influence on its content marketing is a technique we should all mimic.

Help virality happen.

There’s so much talk about “going viral,” but do we ever explore the science behind it? Netflix has a knack for catching virality, and it stems from making content easily shareable and having a consistent and honest brand voice.

Netflix is known to provide content that pairs well with social media, helping insert itself into everyday conversations.

Above is a landing page where Netflix hosts a Rolodex of funny gifs featuring your favorite Netflix series, allowing you to share on Facebook, Twitter or even download for your use.

 

The Small Business Owner’s Guide to Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform.

These are my recommendations.

If you’re looking to get an e-commerce site off the ground yourself with minimal technical capabilities, I recommend Shopify for the theme store, plugins and built-in tutorials. Shopify is all-inclusive when it comes to an ecommerce platform, meaning you can get all you want in a “one-stop shop.”

If you have some technical capabilities and want to expand on the out-of-the-box offerings that Shopify offers, then I recommend going with WooCommerce. As an ecommerce platform, WooCommerce is more robust and has many more plugins at your disposal. Keep in mind that WooCommerce can be more challenging when it comes to customizing and coding requirements.

If you need to build an ecommerce site that is completely customized, I recommend a platform like nopCommerce, which is trusted by more than 27,000 store owners. If your business needs something extremely customized, a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce makes it difficult to complete these customizations. NopCommerce is a great option for those .NET developers.

My agency has helped guide countless entrepreneurs on their ecommerce journey. Here are some of the steps you need to take to get started on yours:

1. Start with a theme.

Your theme helps to reflect your identity throughout your site. Themes control your website’s style, look and feel. Rather than paying a developer a lot of money to customize your entire site, you can simply choose a theme and have them add your products and images within the theme you choose.

Think of it like moving into a home. While you certainly don’t have to build the home from scratch, there still is a lot of work involved to move all of your furniture into the home, decorate it, and make it livable. Each major platform will have a variety of different themes to choose from. Some are free and some can range close to $200 in cost. It all depends on your preference.

2. Choose a platform.

Shopify
If you are looking for a simple e-commerce website that won’t require much housekeeping, but still has a classy design and great customer service, go with Shopify. According to e-commerce-platforms.com, Shopify is the most popular ecommerce platform. Shopify offers 20 templates that are free and about 120 more that you can pay for.

An upside to Shopify is that everything is hosted and supported by Shopify, so if you have any issues, there’s one point-of-contact and no reaching out to another host or development company.

One of the downsides is that if you go with a free template, you could run into other online stores that look very similar to yours in terms of the overall look and feel. The paid versions of Shopify can help differentiate your online store a little better than the free versions. Another downside to Shopify is that you are redirected away from your domain name during the checkout process. Shopify also doesn’t allow you to customize the checkout page — you are bound to what Shopify gives you, minus the logo and customized CSS changes. This could be a big disadvantage for many e-commerce store owners.

Even if you don’t have development skills, you can finagle your way around Shopify to get your site up and running. Shopify’s 24/7 support can also handle some of the technical details for you, but there will be a fee involved. There are ample plugins for Shopify, such as adding a color swatch if your product comes in multiple colors or a plug-in to integrate your storefront and ecommerce store with Square.

If you are looking for a hands-off approach where you can just sign up and have an ecommerce store launched in no time, Shopify is your best bet. Just be cautious if your store gets bigger and more customization is involved because you could be limited.

WooCommerce
WooCommerce is an open source e-commerce plugin for WordPress. The key takeaways from the prior sentence are “WordPress,” “open source” and “plug-ins.”

If there is something that you need to add onto your site that is more complex and requires customization, WooCommerce is going to be a better route. “Open source” means you can modify your store freely and there are no limitations. A closed platform, which is what Shopify is, means you can only modify your store to the extent that Shopify allows.As your business grows, often times, you need new features added onto your ecommerce website, and WooCommerce gives you this flexibility.

Let’s say your ecommerce business heavily relies on key calendar dates for delivery, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. WooCommerce has a plugin that will allow you to add a calendar on the shipping page and select a specific date you want the package delivered. You may be limited with Shopify if you eventually want this feature added.

WooCommerce also offers thousands of different store designs through WordPress themes. You are less likely to run into the same exact design if you take the WooCommerce route. Many business owners are familiar with WordPress, which makes a seamless transition over to WooCommerce.

With WooCommerce, you also own and have complete control of your own data. Shopify controls your data since you are redirected away from your domain during the checkout process.

Ready, set, launch.

My development agency has worked with the majority of ecommerce platforms. The reason we recommended Shopify and WooCommerce is because both fit a certain need depending on your business type and what your wants and needs are. As I mentioned earlier, if your ecommerce site needs to be completely customized, we recommend a platform like nopCommerce.

I recommend that before building an ecommerce site for your business, create a Word Document to give to your developer listing all of the wants and needs you have for your business. Share this Entrepreneur article with him or her to see what route they recommend. The biggest mistake we see is that business owners rush to tell a developer they want an ecommerce site built without listing out all of the requirements involved. This will cost you time and money in the long run. Also, make sure the developer has plenty of experience with ecommerce sites. This will make your development process more seamless.

 

 

10 Laws of Social Media Marketing.

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Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.

It’s vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and — perhaps most importantly — your bottom line.

1. The Law of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.

2. The Law of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.

3. The Law of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.

4. The Law of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.

5. The Law of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.

This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.

6. The Law of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.

If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.

7. The Law of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

8. The Law of Acknowledgment
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.

9. The Law of Accessibility
Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.

10. The Law of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content.

 

 

How to Sell Apps: Handling Common Objections

images (1) There is no point in sugarcoating it: sales is synonymous with rejection. A salesperson faces rejection every single day, no matter how good their product or service is. If you are selling apps to small businesses, the constant objections can be discouraging. You might be thinking it’s part of the job, and there’s nothing you can do about it. While it is part of the job, you can learn to handle objections in the most productive way. This doesn’t mean telling your prospect they’re wrong, it means helping them come to a different conclusion on their own accord.

In the process of persuading them, it’s important to distinguish between sales objections and brush-offs. “While objections are authentic, brush-offs are excuses. Objections are far more serious than brush-offs.”

In the process of persuading them, Micro Intellects says it’s important to distinguish between sales objections and brush-offs. “While objections are authentic, brush-offs are excuses. Objections are far more serious than brush-offs.”

Here are the most common sales objections to selling apps and you can handle them:

1. Sales objections about price

Examples:

  • “It’s too expensive”
  • “There’s no money”
  • “We don’t have any budget left this year”

Selling a product or service to small businesses is arguably even harder than selling to big bureaucratic companies. A small business owner will almost always reference their limited budget as an objection. It is your job to help him or her justify the cost.According to Abraham Baxter,a small business consultant, the best way to do this is by “breaking down your total cost into smaller amounts that are attached to smaller services so the client can see why your price point is what it is.” Most importantly, demonstrate how an app can help the small business save money and increase revenue. After implementation, it will basically pay for itself in a couple of months.

2. Sales objections about competition

Examples:

  • “I can get a cheaper version of your product from someone else”
  • “I can get a better product/more features product with a competitor”

Find out what is happening below the surface here. Is your prospect also talking to a competitor? Are they using this objection as a way to drive the cost down? Or does your prospect think the competitor offers a better product or price? To counter these objections, focus on the unique value that your app will provide for their business that they won’t be getting from a competitor or an alternative product. For the former, explain how the features you offer compare to the competitors’ offerings. For the latter, show how other marketing and operational projects will not yield the same results. Overall, you need to emphasize its worth, not its cost.

3. Sales objections about product

Examples:

  • “I don’t see what your product could do for me”
  • “I don’t understand your product”
  • “I don’t see the potential for ROI”
  • “Apps are just a fad”

These objections are actually requests for more information. Be able to answer these questions in depth, explain exactly how your product can solve specific problems. Use case studies of previous clients to demonstrate how an app provides track able results and accomplished goals. “Nothing sells quite like hard numbers,” says Micro Intellects. Furthermore, apps are relatively new when it comes to small business application. Therefore, you need to show how mobile apps have become a necessity for any business trying to grow (or even survive). A small business owner, then, often needs a shift in perspective from seeing an an app as a mere add-on to their marketing portfolio to a full fledged mobile solution. To formulate your argument, check out our blog article debunking the myth of an app as an add-on.

4. Sales objections about change

Examples:

  • “I’m okay with the way things work right now”
  • “I don’t want to change the way we’ve been doing things for years”

Often these small businesses have existed for many generations, hence they don’t want to mess with the status quo. Get the client to see why they need to make the change. Share research that shows how apps are becoming crucial for small businesses to survive. Together with the client, take a look at local competitors and their tools. Showing that competitors are far ahead can open the small business owner’s eyes to what needs to be done. In addition to the fear of change, small business owners are often already overwhelmed by all the new tools they need to keep up with, such as social media, online reviews, mobile websites and so forth. Put them at ease by showing how an app easily fits into their current strategy with minimal effort.

5. Sales objections about trust

Examples:

  • “You don’t seem to have the necessary experience to do this”
  • “I’ve never heard of your company”

As an app salesperson, you are not just selling a product, you are also selling your services as a mobile marketing expert. For that reason, you should not approach the small business owner as a salesperson. Instead, be a small business advisor. Advise them on their marketing efforts, by showing them where there is room for improvement. Sharing these observations, without asking for anything in return, will build trust. Be honest about your expertise, and be willing to share testimonials and case studies that will diminish your prospect’s feeling of uncertainty. They need to be confident in your ability to help their business.

6. Sales objections about timing

Examples:

  • “It’s too much for me to take on right now”
  • “I’m too busy”
  • “Call me again in a couple of months”

If the lack of time is an issue for your client right now, chances are it will still be an issue in six months or a year. To overcome this objection, you need to make the decision to hire you a no-brainer. More specifically, explain how you will help to set everything up, as well as be there for ongoing support. Depending on the arrangement you make with your client, you can take over the entire app endeavor (i.e. design & build, promotion, push notification etc.), making it as convenient as possible for a busy small business owner. Show them that you will go that extra mile to make their app a success.

check out our blog article debunking the myth of an app as an add-on here and here.

 

Unravelling the Myth: An App Isn’t Just an App.(Conclusion)

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Rethink Reach:

This stronger online presence will lead to the final stage of the ReThink Strategy, namely Reach. More reviews allow you to rank higher on directory websites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and Zomato, making sure local businesses are found.

Reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so small business should make acquiring them a priority. Businesses who want to appear in Google’s local 3-pack need to have a high volume of good reviews. A better online ranking will increase exposure and bring in new customers who, in turn, can become advocates for the business.

Imagine you are in the mood for an acai bowl (we love those here in San Diego), but you don’t know where to get one. You’ll most likely conduct an online search, perhaps by typing in “acai bowl in San Diego”. What will pop up are Google’s 3 local listings, showing the most popular places to get this snack. Below that will probably be the yelp list for “best acai bowls in San Diego”. You will most likely eat an acai bowl at one of these places, not going beyond those search results. A mobile solution will help a small business rank for these desirable positions by acquiring an abundance of reviews.

ReThink Results

This brings the Rethink Strategy full circle, with new customers coming through (online) word-of-mouth marketing and embarking on the ReThink journey themselves. Not only does each stage of the mobile model improve the experience, it ultimately grows the entire business:

  • A 1-star increase on Yelp has been proven to translate to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
  • A 5% increase in customer retention will increase profitability by 25%.
  • Adopting a mobile solution can save a business an average cost of $5,000  annually.


Conclusion

So, we definitely busted that myth! An app is not just an app. An app can be a mobile solution that redefines the entire customer journey and brings about significant growth. A mobile solution has real tangible results, often making them an integral part of the business. The data suggests small businesses are building apps to increase sales (55%), improve customer experience (50%) and to become competitors in a specific market (50%). According to recent studies, nearly half of small businesses are expected to adopt a mobile app by 2017. The features that an app can have (e.g. mobile food ordering, reservations, loyalty programs) are more than add-ons, each of these are benefits of a complete mobile solution that can help a company save or make money. It’s time for local owners to welcome a mobile solution into their small business.