Boring Blog Posts? 6 Ways to Make Your Posts Pop!

1. Give Step by Step Info Providing information in an easy “how-to” style is an amazingly simple suggestion, but this type of article offers loads of value and actually helps your visitor by answering a question they already have on their mind. This can also aid in bringing in search traffic, because people do actually search with entire questions, such as “How to fix a Mansfield toilet?”

2. Break It Into Chunks

I’ve noticed articles that use numbers in them really do get a better response. For example: “The 8 Ways to Increase Sales”  or  “The 3 Most Common Ways to Make Money Working From Home”. There is just something about breaking content into groupings or a finite number that attracts people’s attention. In fact, you may find that older articles you’ve written could be retro-fitted with this style to appear fresh and new.

3. Tell real stories giving details about success or failure loaded with solid lessons.

People don’t just want to be told how to do something, they are actively interested in what prompted you to do it and what happened along the way. The lessons you have learned through personal experience are so much more interesting to others than canned responses and they want to know about your successes or failures and how you turned them around. One area that is particularly successful here is weight loss. People really want to know how you’ve managed to achieve losing weight and how you’ve kept it off. Just telling them to eat less and exercise more just doesn’t inspire them!

4. Write about things people are actively interested in…

Try to find a subject that people are actively interested in and do some research so that you at least sound knowledgeable about the subject. You can use Google to find the most used search terms and then choose one that interests you. This is important because if you have no interest in the subject yourself it is likely to be hard work for you, but it’s likely to be obvious to your readers too.

5. Narrowly define your audience.

This is one of the most basic, yet often overlooked, keys to success. If you don’t know who you are writing to it will be fairly difficult (even impossible) to know what they want or how you should address them. So, please, don’t underestimate its significance. Always do your research, take time to detail your audience persona or personas and know who you are writing to.

6. Use photos and subheads to break it up!

Your visitors will decide within 0.5 seconds whether they want to read your article upon arriving on your website, so you need to grab their attention straight away. Would you feel compelled to read a huge thick paragraph of copy that says “I’m long and boring” or would you be more likely to be pulled in by an article that is light, with short paragraphs, compelling subheads and a few nice images sprinkled in? Blog writing and academic writing are very different and therefore require a completely different mind-set. Your audience may be different, but nobody wants long and boring. So follow these guidelines…
  • No paragraph longer than three lines.
  • Use subheads to break up content and make it easy to read.
  • Bullet out lists where possible.
  • Use attractive images that help illustrate your point — unique images (not stock) are best.
So, next time you think about writing a blog post consider it carefully before you begin. Choose a subject you like and do some research to gain some interesting content. Then think about whether it is suited to a step-by-step or how-to style and break it into easy to understand chunks. Finally jazz it up with some attractive images and you’re good to go!]]>

3 Reasons Email Works Well for Lead Generation

A Targeted Relationship Having a list of targeted subscribers, people who actually want to hear from your brand specifically, is very powerful. What makes this even more powerful is that fact that email marketing allows you to build relationships with these people, and this is the perfect storm for generating sales and leads.

Lightning-Fast Response Time

One of the key reasons email marketing is so effective is that generally, each campaign will see 90 percent of responses within the first 48 hours after mailing. This is great when you want to test different messages to determine which offer gets the best response. Compare this to traditional direct marketing campaigns that can take weeks or months to determine if they’re effective.

Email Campaigns Are Easy To Track and Manage

There are a number of ways you can track an email campaign. First, you can easily see how many people actually opened the email. This is a vital statistic because if people aren’t even getting to your offer, obviously none will convert. If this number is low, new subject lines should be tested. Speaking of the offer, we can also see how many people are clicking on that as well. And of those who do click, we can tell how many signed up. And all of these statistics can be seen in real time, which is priceless no matter what niche or industry you’re in. The bottom line is, email marketing is one of the best ways you can leverage the internet and grow your business in the coming year.]]>

How to Develop and Email Marketing Plan

1] Who Is Your Target Audience? You’ll need to define who your target audience is. An easy way to do this is to look at your current best clients and figure out what these people have in common. Look at their interests and how they engage with your content and offers. When you’ve done this you will now have a profile of who and what your ideal consumer is. Create an email campaign with them in mind.

2] What Do You Want Your Audience To Do?

Why are you sending this email to your list? Chances are it’s not to say “Hi” or ask them how their garden’s doing. You’re writing to them with an offer. How do you want them to respond to that offer? Do you want them to download your white paper? Sign up for a webinar? Purchase a product? Whatever it is, you’d be surprised at the increase in conversion rates simply by having a strong call to action in your email. Tell your audience what you want them to do.

3] What Is Your Ideal Outcome?

In order to experience success, you have to know exactly what that success looks and feels like. You’ve got to see the big picture and define what metrics will determine if your campaign was successful or not. Some examples of ideal outcomes could be: For this campaign to be successful, we will receive 3 new consulting contracts. For this campaign to be a success, we will receive 50 completed lead forms. For this campaign to be a success, we will generate 600 directory sign ups. Whatever your ideal outcomes are, just make sure you quantify this in numbers so that it is measurable. Be sure to come back and check out Part II of this series where we’ll take a look at incentivizing your campaigns and discovering where your greatest marketing success to date has come from.

4] How do you plan to get your site visitors to complete the desired action?

In this life if you want to get something, it’s usually a good idea to give something first. The same can be said for your email marketing campaigns. We’ve already discussed the importance of having a strong call to action – this is where we get something we want from our readers. But what are you prepared to give them in return? As business owners, we can believe our products and services are the prize, but often our customers need an extra incentive to bite. Are you offering them a free gift? A free ebook or white paper they can download? Maybe the incentive is in the form of a discount. Offering extra incentives can have a positive effect on your conversion rates.

5] Where Have You Seen Your Greatest Marketing Success?

You often hear personal development gurus proclaim the futility of focusing on the past, but with digital marketing, focusing on the past is a sure way to create successful futures. Ask yourself where your past marketing successes have come from? What audiences responded the most favorably, and what offers have done well? Steal from your own past successful campaigns and create new ones with the same strategies in mind. And as always, look for ways to improve upon your strategies.

6] When Will You Launch Your Campaign?

Deadlines are fantastic for making us stay on track and I highly suggest you pick a launch date for your email campaign so you have something to aim for. This date will be of particular help to you if you’re overseeing a team of outsourced workers that may be designing some creative elements of your campaign. In the 3rd and final part of this series we’ll explore a few more key ways you can develop a solid and actionable email marketing plan that will set your campaigns apart.

7] Will You Use HTML or TEXT?

There are two varying schools of thought on which format is the best to send to your list. But the truth is, each format serves its own purpose and can have a tremendous effect on certain audiences. One of the reasons many marketers choose to send plain Text email is because that is how we communicate with our friends and family. We don’t send emails in colorful templates that break up the page into readable snippets, like in a magazine. We just type simple message to each other. Using this format can be a good thing because it makes your brand both familiar and familial to your readers. So who should use HTML formatted emails then? Any business who finds it necessary to brand communication with customers. With HTML you can use company colors and your logo; and also include bold and colorful images – which might be good if you are a florist or a baker, or in an industry where pictures sell as much as anything else. At the end of the day it all comes down to your subscribers – what would they respond to the most? That should be your main question in determining which format is best suited for your campaigns.

8] What Will Your Copy Say?

You know who your target audience is, you know what your call to action will be and you know the desired outcome. Great. But now comes the time when you actually have to put digital pen to digital paper and speak to them. Should your email have a formal or informal tone? Should it be long or short? Get right to the point or have a bit of a tease? Again, in order to craft the best copy, you must go back and think of that ideal customer. How do they want to be spoken to? How do they prefer to ingest information? Will they respond to humor or not take you seriously if your content is light? What we can say for sure is that your copy should absolutely not be hypey or gimmicky. People these days see right through that. Be honest and transparent with a great offer that will add value to your reader’s life and you are more than halfway there.

9] What Is Your Budget?

When planning any marketing campaign you need to decide what your budget is going to be. When doing so, take the following into consideration: Have you built your own list or will you be renting a list of subscribers? If you’ll be renting, keep in mind that the average minimum fee to rent a permission-based list is $1,500 -$2,000. You’ll also need to decide if you will require any email creative. For instance, if you need html formatting that cannot be done in house, or if you will be hiring a professional copy writer. And lastly, remember to figure in a developer for your landing page which is where you will be sending the people who click on your link within the email. There are many freelancer sites online where you can hire someone at a reasonable rate to create your pages for you. If your budget is $1,000 or less, then I recommend looking for ways to build your own list to market to. If you’re getting ready to launch an email campaign, take some time first to develop a plan using all of the points we’ve covered in this 3-Part series.]]>

Using Email Autoresponders to Nurture and Enhance Lead Quality

The Unread Download While PDFs, e-books, things like that really work well to generate leads and to get people to download them, and request information, there’s a surprising number of people out there who won’t ever open up what they downloaded. They’ll download it to their Downloads folder. They’ll have every intention on opening it up and reading it, but they’ll forget about it. Once they’ve downloaded it, they’ve taken the action, and their brain checks it off their mental checklist, and they never double back to read it. With an email series, you have a little bit of a nag factor. Now I mean that in the most positive way. But it drips over a period of time. And so if they missed yesterday’s installment, today’s installment comes in, and oh yeah, I’ve got to check that out. And ooh, look at that title. That looks really interesting. Yesterday’s wasn’t really a priority for me, but today they’re talking about such and such, and that’s a problem I’m working with right now. And you have a number of opportunities to really target and hit on a nerve that is a client pain point or something that they need addressed today.

Ease of Entry

Furthermore, with an e-series, you can cultivate an audience that may not be ready to give you many details about themselves off the bat. All you really need is their email address. You need them to opt in. Maybe their email and their first name would be nice. But not a whole lot more. People view subscribing to an e-series as a lot less threatening than filling out a long form to request information, where they may get contacted by a sales person as the next logical step. Another element of an auto responder that is fantastically powerful is there’s familiarity that develops when somebody repeatedly pops up into your mailbox on a scheduled basis. If you see somebody once, they’d have to make quite an impression. But over a period of time, that familiarity that’s developed through an e-series also helps to foster trust, and that’s a critical component to getting people to become leads and to agree to be contacted by you. Some outstanding systems can be found at strategicleadgeneration.com, including A-Weber, Get Response, and Constant Contact.]]>

6 Key Elements of a Killer Offer Page

1. The Offer This can be a double-edged sword, as many marketers will tell you. If you make an offer that is too attractive, like a trip to Hawaii, or a couple of free plane tickets or $10,000, you’ll get loads of unqualified prospects who are simply responding for the offer. Now, if you’ve got an extremely attractive offering that’s very, very broad, which your sales people are trying to sell, then you can sometimes make these leads work. But in most cases for strategic lead generators, what you want is an offering that can be digitally deployed. If you can instantly deliver your offering to that person, great! People want things now and it is very compelling if they can get their hands on something instantly. Webinars are a great offering. Recorded webinars and future live webinars are popular. Also remember that every additional webinar participant does not increase the cost. Just like the more PDF downloads you send out of a certain white paper, guide or informational packet, your costs do not increase. There’s no shipping involved. It digitally deploys. What I try and do is find some kind of a premium to offer that is only of interest to our target customers. I know that may sound obvious, but we’ve seen many people create offers that are of interest to everybody and unfortunately it really does reduce the close rate.

2. Concise Copy

Write a headline that grabs their attention and makes them want to read more. You must research your audience to do that effectively. What are they most interested in? What motivates them when they get up in the morning? If you know who you’re talking to, you know what to say to close the deal. So do your research, make your bullet points and find your audience – then you’ll come up with an idea for a great headline. Also, keep the copy on the page very light and conversational. Don’t get bogged down in verbosity and ponderous concepts. It’s been proven that a friendly, personal approach on your offer page will improve the rate of response.

3. Design a Great Graphic

Create a graphic to represent the free giveaway. Again, keep it simple. Browse through Google images for ideas, or one of the photo services like iStock. Make it colorful and clever and repeat it a few times through the page. We know that people have an emotional response to images more than words and you want them to be in a responsive mood. Think of the great corporate logos like Shell or CNN and find a simple representation of your offer that will bring your words to life and make your visitors take action.

4. Fill out the Form

Embed a form to collect details from the visitor, but try and limit it to five fields, including one that gathers their email address for future email efforts. Many people aren’t ready to be sold on the first inquiry, but over time you can follow up and nurture the lead.

5. Give Them Information

Create a downloadable, digitally accessible info product that answers key questions. Free guides and videos are great! Through the wonders of YouTube and Vimeo you can embed a high bandwidth video that answers key buying questions that many of these people might have. Now you’re starting to shape and control the conversation.

6. Score, Categorize, and Track

Be sure to include a field that qualifies the visitor’s interest. We call this ‘scoring’. Scoring allows sales people to better prioritize the leads. You need to find out from your sales department the key criteria that they consider are the best indicators of whether they will be able to sell this lead or how they decide when the lead is ready to buy. Use Google analytics or other means to see how many visitors you can turn into leads. Track lead sources, pay per click, organic sales effectiveness profiling, banner ads, unique urls, etc. Collect leads into an easily exportable database and use it in other applications. And port those leads directly into your CRM system! So do your research well and get your offer right. Your sales will improve as a result.]]>

The Curse of Unfocused Thinking

one thing, you start doing something that’s less important, but quick to achieve.

Narrow It Down

In the same way, it’s possible to make lead generation a bigger challenge than it really is. I often meet clients who have visitors coming to their website who have found their company through a variety of highly targeted keywords, but the site is missing a critical ingredient. Simplicity. For example, there is a “click here” button on every page of the site with a different message, such as, “Click here to contact a sales representative”, “Click here for any questions you may have” or “Click here to set up an appointment with one of our skilled technicians.” I have found over the years that if there is something you want your audience to do when they arrive on your website, repeat that same message everywhere. We can’t assume that a visitor is going to look through the entire website to find the appropriate link when they’ve made the decision to contact you. Or that they are going to take a specific action when they reach the end of the page of some enlightening information.

Ubiquitous and Focused

So, prompting them is key and you can do that by developing a nice graphic that is carried site wide in the same place on the page. Decide on an appropriate place for the same message throughout the site (on the footer of pages, at the end of articles, at the bottom of product pages, to the right or to the left). Your visitors will then be familiar with one simple “contact us” link which funnels all those people back to a place where they can take your most desired action. Of course, you have to decide what that action is and give them various options at this point. If it’s an appointment they are looking for, you can send them to a form where they can fill out an appointment request or a sales person contact. If they want to request additional materials or information, the form will ask them to enter their details so they can be followed up on. Simply by delivering the same message on that link helps the customer to focus on one simple action that seems easy to do. So, it can really be as simple as just asking for the lead and asking often. So many people forget to do that.]]>

Marketing R&D and Its Critical Role in a Power Lead Gen System

“I did not fail. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.” That’s pretty well what Marketing R&D is all about. It’s not a term that many people use. But it’s the terminology that I use because I want people to understand that just like investing in research and development for science, we have to do research with our marketing. We have to test. The results you get back are extremely valuable to your organization’s marketing efforts. And too often people view failed marketing campaigns as an excuse to say something doesn’t work. Well, we did some pay-per-click advertising, but we didn’t get a lot of sales from it, so it doesn’t work for us. We did some email advertising, but that didn’t work. I challenge that. I think it’s healthier to look at it as an investment in marketing R&D. Because you will almost always learn something from a campaign.

They’re Sending You a Message

If you’re looking for it — if you see the clues, or if you can see some patterns — you’ll learn something. Almost always, you will have a bright spot in the campaign. Maybe it didn’t execute all the way through to the end, or maybe you were able to get visitors to your website, you weren’t able to get conversions. Or maybe you got conversions, but then for some reason, those who filled out and requested information or weren’t responsive to the offer, and were difficult for the sales people to communicate with, get a hold of, and/or close or qualify. So we learn things throughout the campaign, but we have to keep our heads high and look at this as research. It’s not failure because as we test different campaigns, different approaches, key words, different offers and forms and a whole host of variables, we will be learning. And that learning, when put before the right minds, really should yield better campaigns moving forward.

Not as Easy as it Looks

But I really urge people not to view any failed campaign as an overall failure or a sign that that particular medium does not work. Because it’s hard to do something great the first time. Oftentimes we go to people’s websites and see offers being made on the Internet and things look very easy. But behind the scenes, they put time and energy into the offer, into how it’s worded, into how the form is structured, into the sequence of the offer, what key words it’s showing up under. And a lot of that, we don’t get to see, so it looks easy. We don’t get to see other people’s research R&D. Especially within companies when they’ve got marketing staff who want to make a name for themselves, there seems to be a real aversion to testing or doing anything that may fail. Or when it fails, to blame something as being the fault of the medium or media selected, or website selected. I’ve seen this time and time again.

Fail Safe

And it’s one of the reasons why so frequently you will see advertisers advertise where they see their competitors because they’re reluctant to try something new. If they see a competitor there, well, at least they can hang their hat on the fact that their competitor made that decision also. But when there’s a new opportunity that they’ve never seen, their competitor may not be aware of, that they may have a huge opportunity to make an impact on that audience without having to have their competitor appear there also, they’re reluctant to do it because they don’t want to be the ones to try and fail. Do not talk failure. There are tests and there are results. In marketing, there is no failure, there are only results. And even the lack of results should yield sufficient information about something that needs to be retooled, improved or slightly tested.]]>