5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

I’ve been watching Facebook closely for a long time.

I’ve tested hundreds of ad iterations.

I’ve worked hard to build organic reach for myself and my clients.

Here’s what I’ve concluded: Facebook is awesome. But it’s also tricky.

Why? Because the algorithm is constantly shifting, forcing marketers to up their game, readjust their techniques, and reorient their strategies.

Here’s the thing. If you have a social presence for your business, Facebook has decided that your organic reach needs to shrink.

Again.

You know, of course, that this isn’t the first time the social giant tweaked its algorithm.

In June, Adam Mosseri, VP, Product Management for News Feed at Facebook, shared a post that detailed how Facebook was updating the news feed.

The core of the update is to prioritize posts that come from friends and family while reducing the onslaught of content from businesses and other publishers. Facebook wants users to see more posts from actual people, not businesses doing marketing.

The gist of the algorithm remains the same.

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But the variability is increasing. Mosseri explained:

It will vary a lot by publisher mostly based on how much of their referral traffic or their reach is based on people who actually share their content directly…

If you’ve got strong engagement from your audience and they’re shouting your name from the rooftops as they share your content, or generate content around your brand, you’ll be far less impacted by the update.

But most of the businesses I work with aren’t enjoying that level of stellar engagement.

This is what it boils down to. If you want to improve your reach and engagement, you’ll need to find ways to leverage user-generated content (UGC) since that’s what friends and family will see first.

What I want to communicate is pretty simple: User-generated content is one of the most effective forms of content marketing available today.

User-generated content is the future of content marketing.

UGC will act as dynamite to your social media presence, accelerate your onsite content efforts, increase engagement, boost conversions, and build up a wall of defense against any algorithm the world throws your way.

Let’s talk about where the rubber meets the road-your fans helping your site become a conversion-generating machine.

Why you should put your money into user-generated content

There are a lot of benefits to UGC, and those benefits can be significant. And that’s primarily because you’re not limited to social media when it comes to working with customers to acquire and leverage it-though that’s where a bulk of your gains can come into play.

Consider for a moment that more than half of the adult users on Facebook have around 200 people in their immediate networks, according to Pew Research.

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That social network graph looks something like this:

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If the algorithm wants all those people to see content from their connections first, it’s in your best interest to get your audience producing or creating content about you.

And that’s not just for the sake of a little (or even big) boost in visibility.

Consumers fully admit they find branded information from their peers trustworthy-85% of consumers, to be exact.

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That’s because the vast majority of them find that kind of content to be helpful when they make a decision about whether or not to make a purchase.

Nielsen’s study on this subject showed that 92% of consumers trust content and the opinions of their peers over any other kind of advertising.

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UGC also has influence over that trust, according to data shared by Yotpo:

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UGC is the best way to beat an algorithm that wants to topple and bury your promotions amid pictures of babies, beards, and breakfast platters.

But you’re not limited to Facebook in leveraging it.

With variations in engagement time across different social channels, you can see where there are opportunities to use user-generated content to drive up engagement as well as increase consumer trust.

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Some brands are having a lot of success on other social channels and digital properties with UGC.

Below are a couple of examples of brands that leverage UGC using different channels.

A touch of wanderlust

National Geographic asked users to capture unforgettable people, places, and experiences that have impacted their lives from their travels around the world. The hashtag campaign (#wanderlustcontest) brought in tens of thousands of submissions branded to NatGeo.

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And, of course, among those public submissions were some truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring photos people were all too happy to continue sharing.

Ignite user creativity

Nissan’s luxury car brand, Infiniti, ran a campaign promoting its Q30 model, aiming to leverage the content of its fans to help promote the vehicle. The New Heights contest had users print out a marker card that would display the vehicle in 3D when used with their mobile app.

Fans were encouraged to show off the vehicle in unexpected places by snapping pictures and sharing them with a branded hashtag via different social channels.

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These two great examples of building campaigns and visibility from user-generated content had a couple of things in common:

  1. They both revolved around contests. While this is a good way to encourage action among your followers, it’s not always necessary to give something away in order to source user-generated content.
  2. These two campaigns were actively asking their fans to provide the content.

This aspect-the asking-is the most important part you need to remember.

Why? Because the majority of brands simply don’t ask. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.

It’s just that simple.

So, what’s the simplest and most effective way to get UGC?

Ask your users to provide it.

If you want UGC, ask your followers to provide it

Brands don’t want to be pushy, but with UGC, you’ve got to approach it like you approach a call to action (CTA).

With a CTA, you’re telling your audience explicitly what you want them to do. It’s been proven time and again that without a clear call to action, you lose conversions.

But only about 16% of brands take the same approach with UGC, expressing to fans just what kind of content they want to see. Without that kind of direction, consumers aren’t sure what’s okay to share.

In fact, 50% of consumers want brands to tell them what they should include when creating and sharing content.

You don’t need to give away a luxury or big-ticket item when you make the ask, but you do need to ask.

Don’t sit and wait for your fans to provide you with gold.

Here are some of the best ways you can start sourcing and leveraging user-generated content for your brand and social channels.

1. Curate user-generated content with Yotpo

I’ve long felt that Yotpo is an impressive platform for sourcing reviews, engaging customers, and utilizing customer feedback to promote growth.

Now, it’s even better than ever.

Yotpo has stepped up its game with the recent launch of the Yotpo Curation tool.

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This tool allows you to collect relevant Instagram photos from fans and influencers, displaying them on a single dashboard.

From there, you can tag products and handle rights management (including engagement with the original user to say thanks), inject the photos into your product pages, and even sell from your timeline.

This simplifies the tedium of trying to manually source user-generated images and lets you quickly benefit from the social proof tied to UGC.

In one survey conducted by Yotpo, 77% of consumers admitted they preferred to see consumer photos over professional shots:image03

That’s a clear indication of what you should have on your product pages.

Imagine the impact of having quality reviews alongside images showing off your products being used by actual customers.

It would provide a significant lift in conversions when you consider that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site displaying user reviews. A study conducted by Reevoo showed that reviews alone, without any other UGC, lift sales by 18%.

The Yotpo tool turns your customers into brand ambassadors right on your product pages, plus you can create your own shoppable Instagram galleries or post that UGC to other social channels.

2. Build a community

When I talk about building a community, I’m referring to a gathering of people. Literal people in online gatherings.

You may view your social channels as individual and separate communities, but they’re really not. At least not without some kind of organization.

There are a lot of ways to build communities, e.g., Facebook groups, subreddits on Reddit.com, or communities built into your website.

A community you create and manage can give your fans a sense of belonging and make them feel connected to your brand. They’ll share a mix of personal content as well as content related to the brand as they engage with one another.

Through this engagement, you’ll see things like images, videos, and testimonials crop up that are ripe for the picking.

That user-generated content feeds back into the community, encouraging others to generate more of it, and it helps anchor prospective customers who were on the fence about making a purchase.

Giant Vapes is one of the largest online retailers of e-liquid for electronic cigarettes. It also operates a Facebook community, roughly 25,000 members strong. Members regularly share the products they’ve purchased, industry news, their opinions about interactions with the company, praise over shipping and deals, and more.

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3. Give them customization and unique experiences

Customization provides your fans and customers with a sense of real ownership. They’ll naturally want to share with their friends and family what they’ve created, and you can play on that desire by asking them to do so.

Whether it’s a customized piece of clothing, a bag, or a vehicle, customization often leads to some great user-generated content.

And sometimes you don’t even have to ask.

Scores of people got excited about the announcement of Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker. Players create their own Mario levels to play on their own or share with the community. Fans, new and old, went crazy when it launched, and YouTube was flooded with the creations of streamers, generating a lot of visibility for the brand and the game.

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This video has almost 12 million views to date.

In the same vein of creating unique experiences, Hello Games is seeing images and videos of their game No Man’s Sky showing up all over the web, including a subreddit devoted to the game (a user-created community).

No Man’s Sky features a universe boasting over 10 quintillion procedurally (randomly) generated planets, each with creatures and alien plant life different from the last. That guarantees unique content, and fans have been quick to share images and videos of their discoveries since its recent launch.

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When you give your audience something they’ve never experienced before and the chance to create something unique they feel they own, they’re more likely to share that experience far and wide. That builds a lot of trust and provides a lift in conversions.

4. The UGC contest

I touched on contests above with a couple of examples, but in recommending this approach, I wanted to add one more because of the success of the campaign.

Back in 2014, Starbucks invited fans to decorate their white cups with customized art. Fans were asked to submit the images through Twitter with the #whitecupcontest hashtag for a chance to win. There were thousands of entries, and, of course, a constant stream of buzz that drove customers to their local stores.

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I’m mentioning this contest specifically because it pulls in elements from my last point: let users customize and do something unique.

You don’t have to have a multi-million dollar budget to add customization to your product line.

Sometimes, you just need to give your customers a blank canvas and set their creativity free.

5. Use videos on product pages

Yotpo can strap a rocket onto your conversions with user-generated images, but don’t let the rocket run out of fuel.

If you can get your fans and customers generating videos of your products in use, those should be added to your product pages as well.

Explainer videos are great, but there’s nothing that sells a product faster than a video showing real, happy customers, who are 100% satisfied with their purchase.

Here are some quick stats that show how effective product videos really are:

  • 90% of users admit that seeing a video about a product helps them make a purchase decision
  • 36% of customers trust video ads; imagine the trust you gain from earned media
  • 64% of visitors are more likely to buy a product after watching a video online
  • Product videos can increase conversions by as much as 20%

Conclusion

Aside from those five tips, it goes without saying that you should absolutely be using product reviews on your website and social channels such as Facebook.

Leverage that social proof, and find creative ways to team up with your customers.

A large portion of your audience are happy to create and share content for you-they just need to know what you’re looking for.

Tell them how to help, inspire them to get creative, and watch your conversions climb steadily as your collection of UGC grows.

Are you using user-generated content right now to build trust with your audience and increase your brand’s visibility? What techniques are you using, and what’s the most successful?

How to Know When You Should Use Paid Social Media Traffic

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Have you ever used paid social media? I know some people who completely avoid it. They think it means cheating, or it’s somehow inappropriate.

In my opinion, paid social media traffic is an excellent tool.

Obviously, I’m not talking about illegitimately purchasing likes or shares from spammy businesses (more on that below).

I’m discussing legitimate paid methods.

If you use them properly, you can quickly grow your audience, your brand, and your revenue.

However, if you use paid traffic without first educating yourself and deliberately seeking out the best tools and information, it will lead to huge financial losses.

Knowing how to use paid social media traffic is important. But what’s even more important is determining when you should use paid social media traffic.

I think that’s where a lot of the confusion starts for some people. Maybe you’ve wondered the same thing.

When should you start spending on social media traffic, impressions, or clicks?

For paid traffic, like for many aspects of business, timing is everything.

I’ve already written many articles on how to use paid social media traffic to effectively grow your business and increase the ROI of your marketing campaigns.

But today, I want to cut through the noise and help you make an educated decision on whether or not you should be using paid traffic at all.

Ready?

Let’s begin. 

First, a definition

Before we dive into the deep end and discuss the ins and outs of paid traffic, I want to start with a definition.

When I talk about paid social media traffic, I am not talking about buying likes or fake followers.

This is an absolutely terrible business tactic!

It leads to a poor quality audience that has no interest in you or your company and will result in  large followings that do not help you grow your brand.

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Not to mention, it’s also a very sleazy and unethical approach to social media marketing.

By paid social media traffic, I mean the practice of investing in paid ads and marketing for the purpose of delivering your content to relevant audience members-audience members who are actually interested in what you are selling.

Instead of paying some kid with a computer in a foreign country to “like” your photos, you are actually putting your content in front of someone whose interests genuinely coincide with what you are offering.

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

When should you pay for social media traffic?

Let me answer this question with four statements. If any of the following is true of your business, paid traffic may be your best approach.

1. When you are building an audience from the ground up

One of the first situations in which you should pay for social media traffic is when you are building an audience from scratch.

If you are just getting into the game of social media marketing, paid traffic is critical.

Think about it.

  • If you have no audience, no one is going to see your content.
  • If no one sees your content, no one shares your content.
  • If no one shares your content, your following cannot grow.
  • If your following cannot grow, your social media efforts are completely irrelevant to your business.

Such is the struggle of the social network newbie.

Is it possible to grow your social media accounts organically when you are starting from scratch?

Of course.

You can reach out to other similar brands, link your accounts to your blog or YouTube channel, and use friends and family to help your content get off the ground.

But that is life in the slow lane.

Using the organic methods, you could reasonably expect to have a decent social following (3,000 – 5,000 followers) within about 18-24 months.

However, if you use paid traffic, you could cut that time in half while doubling your traffic.

2. When you are diversifying the demographics of your audience

A big problem many brands have is that they get caught in an endless cycle: they target the same type of audience over and over and over again.

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For example…

Let’s say you own a local business.

You run a chain of unconventional gyms with your primary locations on the East Coast.

In addition to your traditional marketing campaigns, you use social media and content marketing to grow your brand and increase your company’s exposure.

Over the years, you’ve built up a reputable following on Facebook, but your audience is primarily located in your hometown and the surrounding cities.

Now, you want to open another location on the West Coast so that you can enjoy sunny beaches and fruity beverages while helping people get fit.

The only problem is, your entire online following is located about 2,000 miles away from your new location.

Not exactly ideal for building a new customer base, is it?

This is where paid traffic becomes a life saver.

With paid social media traffic, you are able to target new demographics and promote your brand in new locations.

You can get really specific, like this:

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Using social media in a geotargeted way like this is especially useful for brick and mortar stores looking to relocate or for online business looking to tap into a new audience.

3. When you are looking to scale your social platforms with a similar audience

If you’ve already built up a healthy social media following and you are looking to make your social media platforms even more profitable, paid traffic is the way to go.

While organic traffic is great, it doesn’t generally work well with large followings.

This is because of the law of diminishing returns.

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Source: vibhavagarwal.com

Let me explain.

Imagine you are an aspiring bodybuilder who is just starting to lift weights. After the first couple of months, you are going to see humongous gains.

You will pack on muscle, shred fat, and improve most of your lifts by close to 100 lbs. But after about 6-12 months of doing this, you’ll see that your improvements start to slow down.

You will still be gaining muscle and losing fat. You will still be increasing the amount of weight you can lift. But it will not be as drastic.

Then, as you continue training on a regular basis, you will start reaching a point where even marginal gains are difficult to achieve. You will start approaching your genetic potential.

And then, you have one of two options:

  • You can continue training naturally and understand that you are close to your peak and improvements will take a long time.
  • You can decide to use steroids or some other performance-enhancing drug to beat your genetics and achieve even more gains.

Now, this is not an ethical or health-based argument for steroids, but it is a pretty effective analogy for paid traffic.

You see, whenever you first launch your social media campaigns (if you really know what you are doing), you will probably see some pretty quick growth.

You will go, as they say, “0 to 100, real quick.”

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0 to 100,000 anybody?

After the first year, you will likely have several thousand followers across your various channels.

In the second year, growth may continue at an even more rapid pace.

But eventually (and this typically happens around the 10,000 followers point), you will hit a wall.

You will still be adding to your followers, but, unless you are willing to start using the “performance enhancing drug” of paid traffic, it will take you years to hit your goals.

However, if you are willing to invest into paid traffic, you can beat the law of diminishing returns and skyrocket your social media following in a very short amount of time.

Luckily for us, there are no ethical, legal, or health concerns related to paid social media traffic like there are with steroids.

You have little to lose and much to gain.

4. When you want to increase your organic reach

I know that using paid traffic to increase your organic reach sounds like an oxymoronic statement.

And it is. But hear me out.

Just because someone follows you or “likes” your content does not mean your content is actually showing up in their newsfeed.

People simply follow too many different brands and individuals for all of them to show up in their feeds.

I, for example, follow dozens of other influencers and tech blogs across my various social channels.

But I rarely see any of the new content posted by the people I am following.

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It’s not because I don’t like the content or because I have no need for what they are sharing.

It’s simply because of the volume of content published each and every day.

If you want to grow your organic reach and get your content in front of people who already like and follow you, you need to invest in paid traffic.

It will increase the frequency with which your content is seen by your followers, and your audience will be more likely to actually find out about a new product you are offering or a promotion you are running.

When should you not pay for social media traffic?

Now that I’ve covered some of the situations when you should pay for social media traffic, I want to touch on one of the biggest reasons why you should not pay for social media traffic.

It’s about quality.

If you are looking for super high quality traffic, paid ads may not be your best approach.

The current stage of your business will determine the type of traffic you want to generate.

For those of you just getting started, the single most important thing to focus on is simply generating more traffic and getting your content in front of new eyeballs.

For others, especially if you already have a strong social media presence, your focus should be on generating high quality traffic.

The quality of the audience you build with paid traffic will generally be lower than the quality of the audience you build with organic traffic.

This is due to a variety of factors.

First, we have to acknowledge the unfortunate reality of social media. There are hundreds of thousands of bots and fake accounts.

Whenever you use paid traffic, it’s much more likely that you will attract more of these automated accounts than you would if you were growing your reach 100% organically.

The second factor is that people who seek out and find your brand organically are typically much more likely to purchase than someone who simply “liked” your page because your ad popped up on their phone.

If someone has taken the time to find your social media pages without the persuasion of advertising or paid marketing, it means you are solving a problem they have.

These people will be much more likely to share your content, be engaged in your discussions, and invest in your products.

Now, using paid traffic obviously does not preclude you from generate organic traffic.

However, you have to remember opportunity cost.

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Source: quickmeme.com

Every hour you spend and every dollar you invest in paid traffic is a dollar and an hour you could have spent optimizing your social platforms and website to generate high quality organic traffic.

With that in mind, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of the current stage of your business and your goals with social media.

Next steps and measuring your success

Now that you are a little bit more informed about the times when you should and should not use paid social media traffic, I want to discuss one last thing before I leave you to it.

Measuring your metrics.

While tracking your metrics is extremely important whether you utilize paid traffic or not, it is doubly important whenever you are investing your hard earned dollars in social ad campaigns.

You need to have clear business goals for your paid traffic campaigns.

Whether it is to generate new leads, increase sales, or simply increase brand exposure, you have to have clearly defined objectives for your investment.

Once you’ve defined that objective, it is imperative that you track your metrics to ensure your investment is actually getting you closer to your goal.

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Source: moz.com

Are the individuals you reach on social media buying your products? Are they joining your email list? Are they reading and sharing your content?

If you are not tracking these metrics, you will never be able to effectively run paid traffic campaigns.

You’ll end up spending thousands of dollars that could’ve been better spent elsewhere, and you’ll end up with a negative ROI.

Conclusion

Paid social media traffic is a phenomenal tool.

If you use it in the right situations and in the right way, it can accelerate the growth of your business in a way that few other investments can.

But the key here is you have to use it at the right time.

If you are using paid social media traffic in the wrong situations, you’ll end up losing money and damaging your brand.

Take the above advice to heart, and decide for yourself whether paid social media traffic is a worthwhile investment in your current circumstances.

How have you used paid social media traffic in the past? What were the results?

4 Free Digital Marketing Opportunities Most Marketers Are Missing

opportunity

Digital marketing.

To some, it’s merely another fancy buzzword. To others, it’s the backbone of their entire business.

In my life, digital marketing is almost everything I do.

For most entrepreneurs, however, it is a highly underutilized and misunderstood tool.

Most people think digital marketing has to be an expensive endeavor that takes thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to see any success with.

This is simply not the case.

There are a number of free tools and opportunities within digital marketing that most entrepreneurs are missing.

Here are just a few of them to help get you started. 

1. Use the power of blog commenting to build links

Blog commenting has become a practice synonymous with spammers and sleazy online marketers.

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Because of this, most entrepreneurs do not take advantage of this incredible opportunity.

Despite the negative connotation, blog comments are a fantastic way to promote your business and build a very natural link profile.

It’s only when blog commenting is used improperly (like in the image below) that it’s damaging to your Google ranking and personal reputation:

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So, how can you use the power of blog commenting to market your content in an authentic, natural, and non-spammy way?

The first and most important step is finding the right blogs to comment on.

The best way to do this is simply to use blogs you regularly read or blogs that show up in your social media feed.

This practice ensures that you are posting on sites relevant to your niche.

It also increases the authenticity of your comments since you are an actual reader and probably have gained real value from the content you are commenting on.

However, if you already comment on your favorite blogs on a regular basis and are looking to expand your reach, there are other ways to find places to comment.

An easy way to do this is to utilize the Google Search Console and Advanced Search Operators.

Let’s say you are running an online fitness clothing store for women.

You could enter any of the following search operators into Google:

  • Women’s athletic wear “comments”
  • Women’s athletic style “leave a reply”
  • Women’s athletic clothing “leave a comment”

For example:

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The search operators you are using clearly specify to Google that you only want search results that have the option to comment on the page.

After you’ve compiled a list of potential blogs to comment on, you can check their Ahrefs ranks to determine whether or not they are worth your time.

Now that you are done with the easy work of finding high quality blogs to comment on, it’s time for the hard stuff.

And that’s getting your comment approved.

This basically comes down to writing a non-spammy comment that still includes a link to your site.

Since most high-quality blogs have a pretty heavy moderation policy, this is not an easy task.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • Always fill the name field with your name-not the name of your site. Comments that have URLs in the name field are deleted most of the time.
  • Leave the website field blank. Since you are going to include a link in the body of your comment, leaving the website field blank will help improve the odds of your comment passing the moderator.
  • The best way to comment is to pick a relevant point from the blog content and then expand on it in an authentic and genuine way.

Take a look at some of the examples below to see the right way to do this:

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2. Don’t overlook press releases

I know, I know.

“What the heck, Neil? Press releases?! We are in the 21st century here!”

And I get it.

But press releases, when used properly, can actually be a pretty fantastic tool.

If you time the article right, a press release can generate a load of views and shares for your content.

When you have a large number of people, especially journalists, reviewing your content, it is more likely that your work will be picked up by major publications.

This can be a pivotal component of getting your content to go viral.

Press releases can also help your link-building campaigns in a big way, but you have to be intentional about the content.

Here are a few of the benefits, if you can ignore the not-quite-accurate benefits of “rankings” and “links.”

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Links and rankings do happen, but only indirectly.

If a journalist or blogger sees your press release and decides to cover your content or include it as a part of a major story, the keywords you’d use would be key.

Make sure your content is filled with keywords you want to rank for.

This way, if a journalist takes a quote from your work, you’ll be able to build up links to help boost your rankings.

The most important thing to keep in mind when running a press release, however, is your message.

Unlike with a regular blog post or YouTube video, when you run a press release, you and your content are now in the spotlight.

If you have any incongruency in your messaging, any incorrect data, or serious errors within your release, the PR will do more harm than good.

With a press release, you are shouting your message from a mountaintop.

Make sure you are shouting the right message.

While press releases are typically very expensive endeavors, costing anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, there are tools online that let you generate press coverage for free.

Here are a few of the best:

There are certainly drawbacks to press releases.

They do not directly improve SEO; they are difficult to track; and if you make a mistake, you can do more damage to your brand than good.

However, if you know your way around, you can actually market your content quite effectively using free press release sources.

Just make sure you consider the pros and cons before filing for a release.

3. Get on Google+

With the prevalence of social media in today’s marketplace, it surprises me that more businesses do not take advantage of the Google+ platform.

Google+ is a fantastic free way to market yourself, your business, and your content.

Getting started on Google+ is simple.

Because I’ve already written extensively on how to use Google+ for your marketing campaigns, I’ll give you only a brief synopsis in this article.

The first step is to claim authorship with your personal Google+ profile.

Basically, this makes it easier for readers to identify your content, and it will allow you to position yourself as an authority within your niche.

Here’s how you can do this as simply as possible, courtesy of Social Media Examiner:

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Once you’ve linked your content to your Google+ account, it’s time to start utilizing the power of the Google+ apps.

The first thing I recommend is using the +1’d Content app.

This allows people to recommend a website or a post. It will increase your click-through rate and will allow people to share and comment on content outside of Google+.

Next, you need to set up YouTube integration with your Google+ account:

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Source: youtubecreator.blogspot.com

Let me share a little statistic with you.

People spend almost 6 billion hours-a month (!)-consuming YouTube content.

By integrating your Google+ and YouTube accounts, you will expand your reach on both platforms simultaneously and increase the number of eyes viewing and sharing your content.

And finally…

The big one.

Google Hangouts.

Google Hangouts is by far one of my favorite marketing tools.

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If you have any degree of authority within your niche, running regular Google hangouts is one of the fastest ways to engage your audience and improve your sales.

When people get to interact with you in a raw and unedited form, they tend to connect with you on a deeper level.

This will build engagement with your audience, transforming them from casual readers to raving fans.

Using a Google Hangout to host a webinar is also a great way to boost sales, especially whenever you are releasing a new product.

However, be warned.

If you are using webinars solely to promote new products, users will leave, and you will damage your online reputation.

You need to offer massive value while hosting webinars before you even mention a new product.

4. Do link outreach (the right way)

When digital and content marketing first started to take off, the tactic of link outreach became very common.

Link outreach basically looked something like this:

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And the thing is…

…this used to work.

However, in the modern business world, the above strategy will probably have a 1-3% success rate, likely with lower tier websites and blogs.

But.

The core strategy of connecting with other influencers and having them promote your content (either by replacing a broken link or just sharing it outright) still works.

If you do it the right way.

What is the “right” way?

Focusing on relationships first and link building second.

Here is the deal.

A lot of Internet marketers are a pain in the butt.

They are constantly seeking to gain value from other people-those they have no relationship with-and rarely offer anything in return.

If you want to stand out from this crowd and actually succeed in your link-building efforts, you need to try a different approach.

The first step is to find companies you want a link from in the first place.

I once again recommend you select blogs and websites you are already familiar with and read on a regular basis.

But if you’ve already worn out all potential opportunities with your “regulars,” you can try another approach (shout-out to Ryan Stewart of Ahrefs.com for introducing me to this).

If you want to find great places to get potential links, then fire up Google, and input one or more of the following searches:

  • [Your keyword] + “Top posts of the week”
  • [Your keyword] + “Friday link roundup”
  • [Your keyword] + “Best posts of the week”

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This will allow you to find blogs and websites already curating great content.

Trust me: it’s a lot easier to get a link from one of these resources than from a blogger who only promotes their own content.

Now that you’ve found the blog you want to get a link from, it’s time to connect.

This does not mean you immediately email them, asking for a link to your content.

The first step you need to take is to start following the blog/website/influencer on social media.

Once you are following them, drop them a line with something simple:

Hey, this is so-and-so. I read your piece on XYZ and really enjoyed it! Keep up the great work!

Once you have broken the ice and made the first contact on social media, start commenting on their posts and on their blog.

Do this for about a week, continuing the conversation you started above, if at all possible.

Once you’ve established good rapport and the influencer is aware of you, it’s time to ask for the link.

While this tactic works great for broken links, it works even better if the blogger regularly posts a “Best of the web” article or something similar.

You will end up getting more traffic from a weekly roundup than you would from a broken link.

And, if your content is good, you may end up getting a repeat “customer” who will continue linking to your company for months or years to come.

Conclusion

Digital marketing can be a lot simpler (and less expensive) than people think.

But you have to be willing to take an “outside the box” approach to it.

Equipped with the above four tips and tricks, you’ll be able to market your company more quickly and effectively than ever before.

None of the advice I’ve given here is easy, but it’s simple and doable.

Take the time to educate yourself on these four opportunities, and learn how to capitalize on them to grow your business.

And invest your time in uncovering the wealth of other free digital marketing opportunities available in today’s marketplace.

You may be surprised at how effectively you can market your company and your content without a big budget.

What is your favorite free digital marketing opportunity?

How to Become a Marketer Who’s Obsessed with Metrics

 

stats

 

Back when I was an Internet newbie, I had no idea what numbers to focus on.

 

I would look at Google Analytics. I would see lots of numbers. And I would be confused.

 

So, what did I do?

 

I did what most people do. I focused on vanity metrics.

 

What are vanity metrics?

 

image05

 

Vanity metrics are numbers. That might sound all data-driven and growth-hacky.

 

But vanity metrics are numbers that don’t lead anywhere. As Eric Ries said,

 

…they don’t offer clear guidance for what to do.

 

Examples of vanity metrics:

 
 
    • Raw number of pageviews or site visitors
 
    • Number of downloads
 
    • Number of subscribers
 
 

I’m not knocking these metrics completely.

 

After all, if you are involved in the world of Internet marketing, metrics are one of the single most important things you can learn, understand, interpret, and act on.

 

If you’re not tracking your metrics, you’ll never be able to figure out how you can improve your marketing performance and, by extension, your revenue.

 

But you have to choose which metrics to focus on.

 

This is why establishing specific KPIs, or key performance indicators, is one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself, your team, and your bottom line.

 

But which metrics should you be tracking? And more importantly, which metrics should inform your marketing decisions?

 

This is the question I faced early on in my Internet marketing career.

 

What metrics do I focus on?

 

Eventually, I came around to the right perspective on things.

 

Here’s how it happened.

 
 
    • First, I realized that revenue was my single most important metric.
 
    • Then, I worked backwards to find out what numbers most impacted my revenue.
 
    • I used those numbers-my KPIs-to track my progress toward revenue.
 
 

With so much variability in marketing techniques, it’s easy to get bogged down in minutia and focus on metrics that do not significantly affect your revenue.

 

To help you on your quest for maximum revenue, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most important KPIs you can track for maximum performance, maximum ROI, and maximum revenue.

 

Each of these metrics should be tracked on a daily, weekly, monthly, and annual basis so that you can see the complete picture with regards to your marketing efforts.

 

Tracking them is only the first step.

 

Acting on these metrics is the real deal. 

 

1. Traffic

 

If you want to be able to develop effective content and digital marketing campaigns, you have to track your web traffic so that you can understand what’s working and what’s not.

 

Unless you are tracking your web traffic, you will never be able to truly gauge the effectiveness of your different marketing methods and increase the amount of traffic your website receives.

 

For example, by tracking your web traffic, you may find that when you are consistently posting on Facebook and LinkedIn, your traffic soars, but whenever you focus on Instagram and Twitter, your traffic plummets.

 

Luckily, tracking your web traffic is fairly straightforward.

 

By using Google Analytics, you can track the number of sessions and page views you get each day as well as the details such as bounce rate, demographics, and source.

 

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“Traffic” is, of course, a pretty broad term.

 

Traffic can encompass a lot of the more detailed features of your website audience, all of which are important to pay attention to.

 

Your website traffic tells a story-a story of how engaged and active your audience is, how frequently they visit you, and how likely they are to purchase from you.

 

The better you know your traffic, the better you’ll be able to achieve your revenue goals.

 

2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

 

This is one of the most important metrics any company, especially startups, should know.

 

Chase Hughes wrote about this metric on Kissmetrics. He called it “the one metric that can determine your company’s fate.”

 

I’d say that’s a pretty important metric.

 

So, what is the customer acquisition cost?

 

Here is a simple definition:

 

CAC: The price you pay to convince someone to purchase your product or service.

 

Don’t be deceived by the simplicity of that definition.

 

The CAC should include the cost of market research, software, team salaries, paid analytics platforms, and, of course, the price of any paid advertising.

 

If you want to be able to effectively grow your company through your marketing efforts, you have to know how much it costs to acquire a new customer.

 

In spite of its complexity, this is actually fairly easy to calculate.

 

All you need to do is add up the monthly marketing budget and then divide that number by the number of new customers you acquired that month.

 

For example, let’s say you spent $2,000 a month on marketing and acquired 5 new customers. This brings your total cost of customer acquisition to $400.

 

You can calculate the number on an annual basis, as in this example:

 

image09

 

With this knowledge, you now know how to effectively budget for marketing, depending on the number of customers you wish to acquire.

 

Using the above example, if you wanted to acquire 20 new customers in a month, you would need to spend roughly $8,000 in marketing efforts.

 

While this number may vary month to month based on how effective your marketing campaigns are, averaging the cost of acquisition over three months will give you a good idea of what you need to spend on marketing to attract your desired number of new customers.

 

To better understand your CAC, it’s helpful to break down the specific channels you’re using to acquire customers.

 

For example, you may be using several marketing methods: paid search, social media, and email marketing.

 

Each channel has a different associated cost. Knowing how much you’re spending per channel gives you a more accurate assessment of your CAC.

 

image03

 

Every industry will have a different method of tracking CAC. In some industries with a long sales cycle and more “touches” for customers, the CAC will be higher and more complex.

 

image10

 

While it’s important to know your CAC, it’s just as important to know how to act on it.

 

If your CAC is too high, for example, you have a problem. The customer’s value must exceed the CAC in order for the business to function.

 

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Navigating the delicate balance between CAC and LTV is something that marketers need to understand and take action on.

 

image01

 

3. Social media reach

 

Social media marketing has become one of the most popular methods of marketing your content and your company.

 

With more than 2 billion people using social media around the world, there has never been-in the history of the human race-a platform that could allow you to have as much reach and influence as social media can today.

 

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In addition to their massive reach, most social platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, provide you with the tools to track your reach within the applications.

 

If you want to maximize the amount of revenue you generate each week, month, and year, you need to track the effectiveness of your social campaigns and understand the ROI of each platform.

 

How do you do this on Facebook?

 

Simple.

 
 
    • Go to your company Facebook page.
 
    • Click on “Insights” at the top of the page.
 
 

image08

 

Facebook Insights provides you with data to help you fully understand what your audience is doing, how it’s interacting, and how it’s impacting your business.

 

When you know this data, you can develop a rock-solid social media strategy to maximize your reach and revenue.

 

4. Landing page conversion rates

 

If you truly want to maximize your revenue and send your conversion rates through the roof, you have to make sure that each of your landing pages is fully optimized.

 

You need to know which landing pages are leading to conversions and which ones are underperforming so that you can effectively craft landing pages that will increase your revenue.

 

You may find that one landing page has a high amount of traffic while another-with a lower rate of traffic-actually has a higher conversion rate.

 

For this reason, it’s crucial to track at least four major metrics on landing pages specifically:

 
 
    • Bounce rate
 
    • Exit rate
 
    • Click-through rate (CTR)
 
    • Conversion rate
 
 

Each of these numbers contributes to the overall picture of your conversion rates and keeps you from being locked into a skewed perspective.

 

One way to help broaden your perspective is to understand what an “average” conversion rate is. It’s hard to nail down an “average” because of the variety of industries, channels, and types of conversion that exist.

 

When you start, don’t expect to instantly explode with a 5% conversion rate. Most of us are lucky if we can get a 2% conversion rate.

 

image12

 

Again, conversion rates vary a lot based on the channel. Here’s a breakdown of the range of variation of conversion rates by channel:

 

image11

 

By monitoring all the important metrics around your landing page and combining the best working elements, you can create high-converting pages.

 

5. Email marketing metrics

 

Despite the growth of social media, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to acquire and keep customers.

 

Email marketing allows for a more personal and targeted style of marketing, and if you are willing to pay attention to the metrics, it will lead to more sales and revenue than you previously thought possible.

 

It’s important to track all the metrics related to email marketing. Here are the ones I suggest you track:

 
 
    1. Delivery rate
 
    1. Open rate
 
    1. Click rate
 
    1. Conversion rate
 
 

What kind of expectations can you have for these metrics? Here’s Ciceron’s research:

 

image04

 

Depending on the complexity of your email marketing, you may wish to analyze your metrics even further:

 
 
    • Unique open rate
 
    • Unsubscribe rate
 
    • List growth rate
 
    • Bounce rate
 
    • Inactive user rate
 
    • Forwarding rate
 
    • Earnings per email
 
    • Earnings per click
 
    • Complaint rate
 
 

How do you take action on this kind of data?

 

If you see that you have a low open rate but a high conversion rate, you should probably work to improve your headlines or cut back on the number of emails you send.

 

Conversely, if you notice a high open rate with your emails but a low click-through or conversion rate, you should probably improve your copywriting within the email to incentivize readers.

 

Email marketing is still one of the most effective marketing methods. Plus, it’s one of the easiest:

 

image07

 

It makes sense to use email marketing and then act on the data you glean from analyzing its performance.

 

Conclusion

 

If you can learn to effectively track the important metrics of your business, you’ll be able to see how your marketing efforts are affecting your revenue and have a better understanding of how you can improve and optimize your marketing efforts.

 

But like with anything in the business world, this is something you have to track proactively. You cannot just set it and forget it-track one or two metrics and then leave it for months at a time.

 

If you can be consistent with tracking your metrics, focusing on how every decision you make affects the bottom line, you can maximize your revenue and take your business to new heights.

 

Keep in mind that you are focused on one top metric: revenue.

 

When you lose sight of revenue, you’ll easily get distracted by meaningless metrics that don’t show you where you’re actually going. Worse, those metrics may fool you into thinking you’re making progress when you aren’t.

 

To be truly effective, your marketing metrics should show you a path forward-how to earn more revenue.

 

Metrics really are the magic key that can unlock marketing success. But they are a double-edged sword.

 

Read them wrong-and your marketing is doomed.

 

Read them right, act on them-and your marketing will push your business forward.

 

What are the most important KPIs you currently track?

Have an App? The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing It Free

 

Apps are huge.

 

But you already knew that. But did you know just how big apps are?

 

Did you know that as of June 2015, more than 100 billion mobile apps had been downloaded from the Apple App Store alone?

 

Google Play? 65 billion.

 

These are pretty insane numbers. And get this: the world’s app obsession shows no signs of slowing down.

 

These numbers go up. And up. And up. And up.

 

image04

 

The world uses mobile devices.

 

And mobile devices use mobile apps.

 

Which makes mobile apps big business.

 

The estimated worldwide app revenue is predicted to hit $77 billion by 2017-more than double the $35 billion it reached in 2014.

 

image15

 

What does this mean for you?

 

If you’ve created your own app, you’ll want to claim your piece of the pie and cash in on it. (And if you haven’t created an app, you may want to give it some thought.)

 

Apps don’t sell themselves. In fact, app marketing is one of the hottest and most contested marketing battlegrounds of the marketing era.

 

With millions of apps, how do you stand above the crowd? How do you distinguish yourself in a crowded marketplace in which your innovative idea has already been iterated a thousand times? How do you get your app to the front of the crowd, to the top of the search results?

 

And harder still, what’s the best way to go about promoting it if you’re on a tight budget?

 

Most app creators I know are startups-a few smart people with a killer idea but not much cash to show for it yet.

 

Is it possible to market your app free?

 

Thankfully, yes-it is.

 

Notice, however,

 
 
    • I didn’t say “easy;”
 
    • I didn’t say “quick.”
 
 

But free? Yep, I’ve got you covered.

 

Here’s a step-by-step formula I’ve found to be incredibly effective and that can get your app the exposure it needs to get major downloads.

 

If you’ve created an app, good for you. But that’s only the start. Once the app has been fully developed, you have a new full time job. Your job now is to market your app.

 

What’s my focus here? I want you to earn more money with your app.

 

Heck, I want you to create the next Instagram or Pokémon GO!

 

It’s all about the marketing.

 

Let’s dive in.

 

Start with app store optimization

 

App store optimization (ASO) may be somewhat of an overrated buzzword these days, but it’s an essential first step for promoting your app.

 

Because 63 percent of apps are found through app store searches, you’ll want to make sure that you’re adhering to some basic ASO principles.

 

image07

 

The story becomes even more intriguing when you look at these 2014 stats from MobileDevHQ. They asked survey respondents where they found the last app they downloaded.

 

image01

 

Boom. App store wins.

 

Obviously, when it comes to viral apps such as Pokémon GO, people usually hear about them online or through social networks. I don’t expect very many people to be searching for “virtual monster game” in the app store.

 

Nonetheless, the vast majority of app downloads happen because people are finding them through app store searches.

 

How do you “do” app store optimization?

 

Fortunately, the process is pretty straightforward and similar to standard SEO.

 

Some elements include:

 
 
    • choosing the right keywords
 
    • using a keyword in the title of the app (“apps with keywords in the title ranked on average 10.3 percent higher than those without a keyword in the title”)
 
    • creating an awesome description that’s catchy and fully encapsulates what your app is about
 
    • including a series of detailed screenshots so that potential users fully understand the features.
 
 

Optimizely advises you to address these five points:

 

image00

 

If you need a little direction, I recommend checking out this guide on ASO from Moz.

 

App store optimization is the process you should follow for both Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

 

There are, however, some significant differences between the two:

 

image02

 

Whatever you do, start with app store optimization.

 

It’s free. And it’s effective.

 

Get reviews

 

Social proof is the lifeblood of online marketing.

 

You can use it to enhance the perceived value of your app and to encourage more people to download it.

 

I know that I personally like to look at the overall rating as well as three or four user reviews before I download a new app.

 

If I see that it has an overwhelming number of positive reviews, it probably means that it’s worth my time, and I feel much more comfortable clicking “Install.”

 

If your app has little to no feedback, I suggest you ask for app reviews.

 

Ratings and reviews are huge factors in the success of your app. Just take a look:

 

image06

 

If your app has a one-star rating, only around 10% of consumers would consider downloading it. If, by contrast, your app has a five-star rating, 100% of consumers would consider downloading it.

 

The brutal fact of app marketing is this: If you have low rankings, you won’t get ranked, and you wont’ get downloads.

 

image03

 

Be sure to provide notifications to app users, encouraging them to review the app as they use it.

 

There are numerous websites where you can obtain legitimate reviews, many of which are free. Check out this list for an overview.

 

Create an app landing page

 

Once you’ve got the nuts and bolts taken care of, I suggest building a landing page specifically for your app to add to your site.

 

This might include a few screen shots, some positive reviews, or even a brief video tutorial of how it works. It doesn’t need to be anything over the top. Quite frankly, it’s best to keep it simple.

 

Below are some examples of app landing pages.

 

This landing page showcases the functionality of the app while conveying the mood and sense of the app through colors and images:

 

image16

 

Vonage’s app download page allows you to “learn more” but also gives you an easy way to download the app for your specific country.

 

image08

 

Foursquare’s app provides that simple interface with the same SMS download option that Vonage provides.

 

image11

 

Some of the best mobile apps usually display a picture of a phone with a screenshot of the app in use. This kind of imagery sends a message. It says “this is an app” and “this is what the app looks like.”

 

If you create a landing page for your app, I suggest you follow that example-a phone with a screenshot of the app in use.

 

Here’s the landing page for Everest:

 

image12

 

I like the simplicity and functionality of this weather app:

 

image14

 

If you’re already generating a considerable amount of traffic, you can turn casual visitors into app users without going to a whole lot of trouble.

 

Place download links on your website

 

You can capitalize on your site’s traffic by simply creating download links to your app and placing them on your site.

 

A logical location would be right next to your social media links. Above the fold is ideal.

 

With hardly any effort, you can bring some considerable attention to your app by leveraging the existing traffic you’re generating.

 

Make sure you use the standard download images. Most users have been conditioned to recognize these icons. When they glance at your website, they’ll instantly notice these buttons and click and convert.

 

image10

 

Reach out to tech publications

 

In my opinion, positive press is one of the best ways to jumpstart a company or, in this case, an app.

 

Imagine if your app could get a positive mention on a place such as Mashable!

 

image09

 

If you want to take your app from relative obscurity to a global audience, tech publications are just the ticket.

 

But to be totally honest, this is by no means a cakewalk, especially if you are targeting big name publications. But it’s definitely feasible with a little persistence.

 

Here’s what you do:

 
 
    1. Research tech publications and any other media outlets relevant to your niche. This post has some examples.
 
    1. Develop a pitch for an article that will feature your app while providing value for a publication’s target audience.
 
    1. Contact editors.
 
 

I will say that most editors are incredibly busy, so it may take some time to get a response (a week or more isn’t uncommon).

 

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get an instant response. Just keep at it until you break through.

 

Keep sending emails, and keep following up.

 

If you can get your app featured on a site such as TechCrunch or Mashable, the effort you put in can pay handsome dividends.

 

image13

 

For starters, I suggest you use this list from Spacechimp as a source of places to get reviews and mentions.

 

This method is totally free. But it does take some serious time.

 

Reach out to influencers

 

While guest blogging may not have quite the same impact as a write-up in a tech publication, this route tends to be easier and can still get significant results.

 

The key here is to perform some research and find a handful of blogs that are related to the niche your app is in and that have an audience that would be interested in it.

 

For instance, a productivity app might reach out to Lifehacker to see whether they can get featured in the annual Lifehacker Pack.

 

image05

 

You’ll want to follow the same basic formula that you would for reaching out to a tech publication and develop a quality pitch that a blogger can’t say no to.

 

Just make sure you fully familiarize yourself with their style and tone first.

 

Promote on social media

 

If you’ve already got a sizable audience that’s dialed in, you should be able to gain some decent exposure.

 

In this case, simply promote your app directly, or post links to articles featuring your app.

 

If your audience isn’t large enough to help you promote the app, I recommend contacting relevant influencers to see if they’d be willing to share your app with their followers.

 

Sometimes, this is all it takes to crank up your exposure exponentially.

 

However, I’ve found that this is usually a numbers game, so you’ll want to reach out to at least five influencers.

 

Conclusion

 

With “smartphone users spending 89 percent of their mobile media time using mobile apps,” there’s plenty of opportunity.

 

Even if you’re on an extremely limited marketing budget, you can still promote your app and bring it to the mainstream.

 

By following these steps, you can successfully reach your demographic and maximize your number of downloads.

 

Can you think of any other effective ways to promote an app on a shoestring budget?

What Happens to SEO When You Stop Blogging?

 

blogging

 

I’ve been blogging for longer than ten years.

 

Ten years! And I haven’t quit.

 

That’s a long time.

 

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here. I simply want to make a point.

 

Why haven’t I stopped blogging? After all, I get tons of traffic from old blog posts that I wrote two, four, and even eight years ago.

 

Why do I keep at it? Writing is punishing work. It’s tough, and it takes a long time. Don’t I have better stuff to do like binge-watching Netflix or just relaxing?

 

Why am I so devoted to blogging?

 

I’ll let you in on a secret. I actually love what I do. That’s one reason. I blog because I like to do it.

 

But there’s another reason. It’s a business reason. And it’s built on data.

 

If you know anything about SEO, you know that Google values fresh content. Fresh content is a significant factor in positively influencing ratings. The logic here is that the more frequently you update your site, the more frequently Googlebot (Google’s crawling bot) visits your site.

 

In turn, this gives you the opportunity to achieve better rankings.

 

Although you can update your site in several different ways (not to mention all the different types of content you can create), writing new blog posts tends to be the simplest way to generate fresh content.

 

So let’s go back to my question: why do I keep blogging? Why are you blogging? Should you quit? Should I quit? Are there better ways to do marketing, gain traffic, and grow conversions?

 

Is blogging truly all it’s cracked up to be? More specifically, just how big of an impact does it have on SEO?

 

In this article, I’m going to do away with niceties, guesses, and “best practice” advice. Instead, I’m going to dish up the data so you can get the cold, hard facts on what happens if you decide to stop blogging. 

 

Some key stats

 

First, here are just a few statistics from Kapost to put blogging in perspective:

 
 
    • Brands that create 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month.
 
    • Blogs give websites 434 percent more indexed pages and 97 percent more indexed links.
 
    • Blogs on company sites result in 55 percent more visitors.
 
    • B2B companies that blog generate 67 percent more leads per month than those that do not blog.
 
 

These are some legit numbers. They show just how monumental of an impact blogging can have.

 

But what would happen if you stopped blogging?

 

You pull the plug. You quit. You’re done. No more publishing.

 

What would happen?

 

Would it have any catastrophic consequences, or would it merely be a mild impediment?

 

Let’s take a look at a study that put this to the test.

 

251 days of no blogging

 

WordPress developer/social media manager/SEO expert Robert Ryan conducted a simple yet enlightening experiment.

 

In 2015, he refrained from posting any new content on his blog for 251 days. That’s eight months and seven days.

 

Here are some of his key findings:

 
 
    • Overall traffic to the site saw a major decline as it fell by 32 percent.
 
    • Organic traffic dropped by a massive 42 percent.
 
    • Traffic to the contact page was down by 15 percent.
 
    • Overall site conversions fell by 28 percent.
 
 

What can we take away from these stats?

 

Blogging affects overall traffic

 

When Ryan quit blogging, his traffic rapidly fell by 32%.

 

The image quality is low, but here’s the chart that he posted:

 

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The fact that Ryan’s overall traffic dropped by nearly a third during this time is tangible evidence that there’s a correlation between your blog output and your overall traffic volume.

 

Quite frankly, I find it a bit alarming to see such a dramatic drop just because of not blogging.

 

Of course, we should keep in mind that his experiment lasted for over eight months.

 

If you stopped blogging for only a month or two, the consequences probably wouldn’t be this extreme.

 

However, it still wouldn’t do you any favors.

 

This brings up a good point. What if your business runs into trouble, you get sick, or something else happens that prevents you from blogging for a time?

 

I suggest having a backlog of articles to publish at all times. I like to have several posts scheduled ahead of time. If something unexpected comes up, at least I know my posts will go live according to the schedule.

 

Organic traffic can take a massive hit

 

A 42 percent drop in organic traffic is colossal.

 

For some businesses, that kind of drop could make the difference between making money and losing money.

 

An organic traffic loss of that magnitude is similar to receiving an algorithmic penalty.

 

Most websites earn most of their traffic organically.

 

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If you’re in the “business services” industry, you earn a disproportionate amount of organic traffic.

 

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Where does all this organic traffic come from?

 

It comes from content. More specifically, it comes from blogging.

 

Organic traffic is nothing to wink at. This is the lifeline of your business. This is your audience.

 

It’s hard to dispute that Google does indeed show preference to sites with consistently fresh content.

 

As Moz explains,

 

“Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.”

 

image00

 

It’s all theoretical, of course. No one knows exactly how Google’s algorithm works.

 

But we can’t dispute the fact that quitting a blog leads to an organic traffic nosedive.

 

By having a dynamic site (publishing content) as opposed to a static one (not publishing new content), you provide Google with new content to crawl and index. In turn, this keeps you on Google’s radar in a positive way.

 

You also have to consider the fact that each new blog post presents an opportunity to generate more backlinks and rank for additional keywords.

 

I imagine that you want to see an uptick in traffic like this:

 

image01

 

The fact is, you can’t get traffic like that unless you blog like you mean it.

 

When you stop blogging for an extended period of time, your stream of organic traffic can dry up, which can obviously have some undesirable consequences.

 

More blogging equals more leads

 

The stat from Kapost, stating that brands with 15 blog posts per month average 1,200 new leads per month, and Ryan’s stat-stating that traffic to his contact page fell by 15 percent-show us just how intertwined blogging and lead generation really are.

 

This makes sense when you think about it.

 

No blogging means much less organic and overall traffic. In turn, fewer visitors are landing on your website, which means fewer leads.

 

Blogging, quite obviously, leads to more leads.

 

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Notice this data from MarketingCharts.com. Their data shows that a higher blogging frequency is positively correlated with higher customer acquisition rates.

 

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Quitting blogging is a conversion killer

 

The final and perhaps most alarming of Ryan’s findings was the drop in overall site conversions (28 percent).

 

I can connect the dots to see how this could happen.

 

Few people blog just for the heck of it. We blog because it makes a significant difference.

 

We blog because it builds conversions.

 

But how does this work? How is blogging so inextricably linked to conversions?

 

From my experience, I’ve found blogging to be an incredibly effective way to build rapport with my audience and get them comfortable with the idea of buying.

 

For example, before a prospect would want to go ahead and purchase Crazy Egg, there’s a good chance that they would first want to explore “The Daily Egg,” which is the accompanying blog.

 

I don’t sell anything on that blog. I just provide value, value, value.

 

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In fact, two stats from Aabaco found that “60 percent of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site.”

 

It’s about fostering positive feelings, as vague as that sounds.

 

Furthermore, “78 percent of consumers believe that companies behind content are interested in building good relationships.”

 

Good relationships are built one blog post at a time.

 

Basically, blogging builds trust.

 

If you blog the right way, you can demonstrate transparency.

 

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Transparency, in turn, creates trust.

 

There’s no secret here. If you want to truly influence purchases (conversions), you should be blogging.

 

Customers look to content to grow and sustain positivity and goodwill towards the brand.

 

This positivity and goodwill influences conversions. You’ll earn more conversions because you are blogging. It’s that simple.

 

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I would also make the point that stopping blogging out of the blue can make you look a little flaky in the eyes of customers. Some may even wonder if you’re still in business.

 

No one wants to do business with a place that seems quiet and untended. You might still be in business, but if your blog isn’t buzzing with new content and activity, users might get the idea that you’re not around to serve them.

 

This will kill your conversions.

 

For these reasons, you can see how a lack of blogging can slowly trickle down to hurt conversions and eventually result in a considerable decline in customers.

 

Jeff Bullas provides an excellent explanation of how blogging builds credibility in this infographic:

 

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These aren’t just random stats. These are concrete data-driven signals that your blog builds your credibility.

 

And your credibility as a business influences whether or not people will buy from you.

 

The takeaway

 

While I can’t say for sure that you would experience the same level of backlash that Ryan did, it’s fair to say that quitting blogging for an extended period of time isn’t going to help you.

 

Even going a single month without an update could throw a wrench in your SEO.

 

For this reason, I can’t stress enough just how important it is to be consistent with publishing blogs.

 

Everyone has their own opinion on what the bare minimum is, but most bloggers would agree that you should strive for at least one per week.

 

But to determine the ideal frequency, I would suggest checking out this post I wrote about determining how often you need to blog.

 

A blog such as the Huffington Post (yes, it’s a blog) publishes an article a minute. They can do that because they have a ton of semi-free and syndicated content being pushed out.

 

If you’re Forbes, you might publish more than 1,000 articles a month.

 

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Obviously, you won’t be able to keep pace with Forbes or Huffpo, especially if you’re blogging for your personal brand.

 

Instead, you should focus on consistency. As this article shows, when you quit blogging, your traffic and conversions tank.

 

If you stay consistent, you’ll win.

 

Conclusion

 

Blogging accomplishes much more than simply demonstrating your expertise and building trust.

 

It plays a major role in SEO, and the frequency of your blogging can determine how much traffic you bring in, how many leads you generate, and ultimately how many conversions you make.

 

If you want to win at the game of online marketing, you’ve got to be publishing content.

 

And you can’t stop.

 

Internet marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. As a ten-year veteran of this sprint, I can attest to the fact that it gets ugly and tiring, and there are times when you want to quit.

 

But I can also attest to the fact that your hard work pays off.

 

Sure, at times you might feel like you’re banging your head against a wall, but all that work is doing something. It’s growing your audience. It’s building trust. It’s pushing up conversions bit by bit, day by day, month by month.

 

Don’t quit.

 

Have you ever tried a similar experiment, and if so, what were the results?

11 Personal Brand Building Hacks That Will Earn You More Customers Within Two Weeks

 

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If you run an online business, you are probably aware that building a strong personal brand is one of the most powerful tools in your entrepreneurial arsenal.

 

While most entrepreneurs understand the power behind effective branding, very few understand how to effectively execute and build a reputable personal brand.

 

If that’s you, don’t worry.

 

With a few simple tweaks and hacks, you can ramp up the power behind your brand and build a bigger fanbase than you ever thought possible in a few short weeks.

 

Here’s how.

 

1. Use professional profile photos

 

If you want to be taken seriously in the online world, you need to present yourself with an air of professionalism.

 

I know it may be tempting to use that cute avatar as your profile picture, but it comes off as adolescent and unprofessional.

 

Invest the time and money into a professional picture, and it will be worth its weight in gold for your personal brand.

 

Make sure you smile. Why? Because a smile can build trustworthiness.

 

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Here’s how MedicalDaily.com summed up the research on this subject:

 

Psychologists specializing in facial expressions are still unsure as to whether a human smile is a tool used for communication or an involuntary expression that conveys our emotional state. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and the Toulouse School of Economics have confirmed that putting on an honest smile that is genuine can influence people to cooperate with you by perceiving you as trustworthy.

 

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The professional photo I use on this blog is simple and effective. Shirt. Suit. Tie. And…smile!

 

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In the photo above, I’m wearing a suit. That helps, of course, but it’s not absolutely necessary. To look professional in a photo, you don’t need to be wearing a business suit.

 

By “professional photos,” I mean the quality and subject of the photo.

 

I was browsing LinkedIn recently and came across a guy I know to be really professional. He does top-notch work and is the president of his own company.

 

But his profile photo doesn’t shout professional! In fact, it’s kind of hard to figure out what’s going on in his picture. The quality and subject of the photo don’t speak to his professionalism.

 

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Isn’t there a place for fun photos? Sure, but make sure you’re using them in the right place and at the right time.

 

I’ve discovered that fun or casual photos can grab people’s attention-like this one on my blog NeilPatel.com.

 

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Here are a few key things to remember:

 
 
    • When it comes to your profile photo (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), make sure it’s a headshot. No one else needs to be in the picture-no kids, pets, or significant others.
 
    • Smile.
 
    • Don’t wear sunglasses.
 
    • Wear something that’s appropriate to your job and position.
 
    • If possible, use the photo services of a professional.
 
    • Use a high-quality photo. Pixelated headshots aren’t effective.
 
 

Look, you don’t need to be a good-looking person to have a really high-quality headshot that brings in the leads. All you need is a sharp, crisp, professional photo of your face.

 

2. Present content authentically

 

We live in an era of frauds and fakes. If you are not intentional about your presentation, even high quality information may be disregarded or come off as disingenuous.

 

Whenever you write an article or record a video, speak or write authentically, from the heart. Don’t worry about what people will think.

 

Whether you swear like a sailor or are as clean-cut as they come, whether you are reserved and quiet or as intense as a Navy SEAL instructor, use your own personality and style whenever you share your message.

 

People will appreciate the authenticity. Your polarizing nature will create more loyal customers and fans than you can imagine.

 

3. Create and share killer content on a regular basis

 

The world is so full of new and exciting content that it’s easy to get left behind (even with an established brand) unless you are regularly creating and marketing high quality content.

 

A guy like Brian Dean has a strong personal brand:

 

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He needs to be publishing really great content on a regular basis in order to generate leads for his business.

 

As expected, his content is always top-notch:

 

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Whether you are creating YouTube videos, podcasts, or blog posts, you need to keep your head in the game and crank out killer content on a regular basis.

 

What’s “killer” content? Here are a few pointers:

 
 
    • Well researched-back up your claims with data.
 
    • Unique-don’t repeat what everyone else is saying.
 
    • Longform-lengthy content gets more social shares, more backlinks, and higher search engine results.
 
    • Genuinely useful-solve problems; relieve pain; provide answers.
 
    • Grammatically correct.
 
 

4. Stay consistent on social media

 

The average person in the Western world spends around 3 hours on social media each day.

 

If you don’t build and maintain a high profile social presence, your brand will suffer a slow but certain demise.

 

Gary Vaynerchuk’s social media presence is on point. He’s always publishing content, and it’s always good.

 

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Social media is so prevalent in our modern culture that it’s become an absolute necessity for any aspiring entrepreneur to master the art of social media branding.

 

How do you remain consistent on social media? Here is a schedule you can follow:

 

Twitter: 5 times a day

 

LinkedIn: 1 time a day

 

Google+: 1 time a day

 

Facebook: 2 times a day

 

Branding isn’t complicated. It’s simply a matter of deciding what your jam is, knowing it, and being all about it, everywhere you are.

 

5. Tell a compelling story

 

People love stories-it’s part of our DNA.

 

We have a neurological response to storytelling:

 

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The effect of a story is so powerful that it’s impossible to ignore.

 

James Clear, a popular blogger, explains his take on stories:

 

In the end, my work ends up being one-part storytelling, one-part academic research, one-part personal experiment. It’s a colorful blend of inspirational stories, academic science, hard-earned wisdom.

 

His stories are now part of his personal brand. He uses storytelling to introduce the lessons he teaches on his blog.

 

A story? About a tough job? And the Tour de France? Yes, please.

 

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And while the days of listening intently to tribal leaders tell tales of struggle and victory while huddled around a campfire on the savanna are over, we still connect with stories in the same way we did thousands of years ago.

 

If you want to effectively build your personal brand, you have to center everything around a story.

 

And not just any story, your story.

 

One of the quickest ways to grow your brand and your business is figuring out how you can craft and share your story in a way that’s as relatable and authentic as possible.

 

6. Be intentional in positioning yourself

 

How do you want to be known in your niche?

 

Are you the friendly expert? The sarcastic a-hole? The mentor full of tough love?

 

Think about people with strong and recognizable personal brands such as Tucker Max (the sarcastic a-hole), Tim Ferriss (the friendly expert), or Garrett White (the tough love mentor).

 

All of them decided how they wanted to position themselves within their niches and then built their brands around that.

 

If you want to succeed in your entrepreneurial endeavors, you’ll do the same.

 

You have to own it. Stick with it. You’re building an identity.

 

Maybe Tucker Max likes his identity. Maybe he doesn’t. But he made the bed, and now he has to lie in it.

 

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Selena Soo positions herself as a publicity and business strategist for experts, authors, and coaches:

 

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Every email, webinar, ad, and update is focused on that one point.

 

Brendon Burchard is a passionate coach who has positioned himself using the “Live. Love. Matter.” slogan. His positioning has allowed him to create a powerful presence that people don’t forget.

 

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7. Host hangouts and reply to comments

 

One of the quickest and most efficient ways to grow your personal brand is to connect with your audience.

 

Whether you are responding to comments on your blog, hosting weekly AMA Hangouts, or annual live meetups, getting involved with your audience and building rapport will put you on the fast track to a massive and recognizable personal brand.

 

8. Create a recognizable logo

 

The human brain processes logos in around 13 milliseconds, faster than the blink of an eye. I bet you recognize these logos:

 

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A recognizable and high quality logo is essential to your visual marketing and personal brand.

 

Think about brands like Pepsi, Amazon, Google, and PayPal.

 

All of them have established strong logos people instantly recognize. Whether you love them or hate them, you cannot look at the Pepsi logo or see the colorful letters of Google without immediately acknowledging the brand:

 

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Use the power of the human brain to your advantage, and craft a high quality logo that will increase your recognition.

 

A personal brand logo creates a visual hook for people to pair with your brand. If you are trying to brand yourself using only a title, your name, or a slogan, it won’t be as effective.

 

The human brain uses a variety of sensory inputs to create a lasting memory-sound, motion, color, smell, and imagery.

 

By creating a colorful and unique logo, you’ll be able to develop visual imagery that sticks in people’s minds.

 

Think about Jimmy Fallon for a moment. He has a strong personal brand and uses his circular logo and blue moon imagery to reinforce this in people’s minds:

 

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Rachael Ray, the celebrity cook, has a fun, light, and memorable logo featuring her name:

 

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9. Create a brand tag line

 

Another great way to build your brand recognition is to create a powerful and easy to remember tagline or mission statement.

 

“Open happiness.”

 

“Stay fresh.”

 

“The few, the proud, the ____.”

 

“Let’s go places.”

 

Even without me telling you the brand names, you’ve probably recognized the brands of Coca-Cola, Subway, the U.S. Marines, and Toyota.

 

Brands try to harness a feeling, an emotion. That’s why a brand that makes automobiles can have a tagline with a visceral and deep-seated impact.

 

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That’s the power of a well-written tagline.

 

Even in a so-called “boring” industry, Microsoft tries to be inspirational.

 

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A personal brand has even greater potential for inspiration and motivation.

 

10. Start a podcast

 

If most of your work is centered around the written word, starting a podcast is a fantastic way to build a stronger online personality and establish a more powerful brand.

 

Podcasts are a rawer and unfiltered medium for sharing information, and if you can grow them and market them well enough, they can also be a fantastic strategy for monetizing your brand.

 

11. Start speaking at events

 

One of the best ways to establish authority of your personal brand is to speak at events or conferences:

 

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Although speaking at TEDx or The World Domination Summit may feel out of your reach right now, start with smaller gigs, and build from there.

 

Getting up in front of a live audience, while being vulnerable and not having the ability to edit mistakes or correct your speeches, is a powerful way to build more authenticity into your brand.

 

Speaking takes practice. Many people are afraid of public speaking, but I think everyone should try it at least once.

 

Who knows? You may find that it’s something you love and are good at!

 

Conclusion

 

You’re now equipped with 11 powerful tips. These hacks work.

 

If you are willing to take action, you can grow your personal brand at an obscene rate, earning more customers and building a loyal following quicker than you ever thought possible.

 

It will take hard work and sacrifice on your part, but I promise that if you do what you need to do and use these 11 tips, your brand and your business will never be the same.

 

A personal brand is a powerful thing. How have you used your personal brand to gain more clients and customers?