Saturday, 29 November 2014

5 Clever Growth Hacks To Increase Your Website Traffic

If you’re running an early stage startup, you’re probably looking forward to the day that you’ll be featured in The Next Web, Techcrunch or Mashable. You’ll get thousands of users and probably have the best day of your life. World domination is now looming tantalizingly on the horizon…
However, if you’re an early stage startup you’ve probably only coded a prototype and put a landing page up to accept some signups. You have your minimum viable product (MVP) in hand, you’re eager to get your first customers and have them test your product. Here’s a list of 5 simple growth hacks to reach that goal.

Hack #1: helps people discover and get access to the latest internet startups. They’ve been operating since 2010 and have over 23,000 people following them on twitter and thousands more subscribed to their email newsletter.
Let’s do this!:
  • Betalist gets 55,000+ pageviews per week, their daily newsletter has 9,000+ subscribersand they have 20,000+ followers on Twitter. Getting on betalist is typically good for ~150-250 unique sign-ups on your landing page. It’s not really a hack, but just do it!
  • You must sign up before you launch your product, but after you have a landing page set up to collect email addresses/signups. Don’t miss this opportunity by sitting on it.
  • Once you have your landing page ready to go, pay the small fee to expedite your listing. It’s worth it.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to copy & paste your listing onto StartupList andBetaBound while you’re at it. Although they are much less popular, they will still result in a decent amount of free traffic and sign-ups. Not bad for under five minutes of work!

Hack #2: Google News + MTurk = Press


Getting press is daunting for just about every founder. Who do you talk to? How do you find them? What do you pitch them? All questions I spend hours thinking about…for…every…project.
But with a little creativity, and a little hacking, getting press is easier than you may think.
  • Step #1: Use Google News API to find journalists who write about topics relevant to your startup or company. (How? Download these files, unzip, and open ‘index.html’)
  • Step #2: Use MTurk to get their email adresses
  • Step #3: Send them press kits, and get press!
Go here to read the full instructions for this hack.
Pro tip: Remember, YOLO (You Only Launch Once). I don’t recommend generating press until you’ve validated your customer segment(s), their pain(s), and much of your solution. Use this to spark a flame you’re sure will turn into an inferno.

Hack #3: TweetFavy

TweetFavy is a simple growth hacking tool for Twitter. It’s a great and cheap alternative to twitter ads for small businesses to gain targeted followers, mentions and website traffic.
You get consistent social media activity benefits without having to perform labor-intensive incremental work or worry about things like content or tweet timing. Just continue to use Twitter as you normally would and enjoy the added benefit of TweetFavy working alongside you!
Learn more:

Hack #4: Craigslist

Craigslist is a convenience and discovery engine. Ways you can get discovered include job posts, gig posts and “beta tester wanted” requests. Get creative, although this can cross over into “black hat” territory fast..
You definitely don’t have to be in real estate (i.e. AirBnB) to leverage craigslist for awesomeness, although if your hack isn’t interesting or provocative, your traffic quality will be low. Automate to the extend possible.
Pro tip: These strategies can also be used to a lesser extent with smaller task marketplaces like Taskrabbit.

Hack #5: Friendbuy

Want Dropbox-style affiliate referral links without having to roll your own? Friendbuy has a straightforward, intergrated API, widget and analytics solution for affiliate sharing setup with a lower technical learning curve.
To view the original article Click Here

Friday, 28 November 2014

9 Ways To Build Your Email List With Videos

It’s hard to overstate the influence of online video. More than a third of Internet traffic is video right now. By 2018, it will be 69%. That’s just scratching the surface. The statistics on video use, growth and effectiveness are amazing. 52% of marketers name video as their most effective marketing channel. YouTube is the second biggest search engine. What’s even more amazing is most of us are still largely ignoring video.
Consider this search terms comparison from Google Trends. It compares search volume for the keywords “email marketing”, “video marketing” and “social media marketing” over the last few years.
Searches for “video marketing” just quietly tick along, though actual video use is growing by leaps and bounds. Even the forecast estimates don’t show searches for “video marketing” going up much through 2016.
So what does this mean to you? It means opportunity. Big opportunity.
Just to give you a way to start thinking about how to use video, consider harnessing it to build your list. There are more ways to do this than you’d think. They don’t take the skillset of a Hollywood producer, or the looks of an Oscar winner. Even if you’re doing a simple screencast, you can reach a far larger audience and attract them more effectively with video.
Here’s how:

1) Add annotations to YouTube videos

You can add links, called “annotations” to your YouTube videos. Most annotations go to other YouTube videos or to a YouTube channel, but if you set things up right, you can send people to an external website. Annotations that point to sites beyond YouTube are called “Associated Website Annotations”. Instructions for how to set them up are here.
You only one link to use for your website annotations, so make it count. Also expect to have to tinker a bit with the setup. I have successfully added website annotations to my YouTube videos, but the instructions YouTube gave me were not perfect – it took a little creativity to get them to work. Most of the problem was I had to wait about 20 minutes for my YouTube account to update and then recognize certain changes I made. But with about 90 minutes work, now all my YouTube videos can point to my website. That’s a fantastic stream of traffic to get more signups from.
Sends you to this page, that’s why it’s useful to use these types of buttons.

2) Include a pitch to join your list at the end of every video.

It’s nice to have a link to your website (or to a list-building squeeze page) in every YouTube video. But you can do better. If you add a 3-7 second pitch to join your list at the end of all your videos, you’ll see your signups spike. So make yourself a very short “join my list commercial”.  Add it to all your new videos.
You can even go a step further. I’d love for you to be able to test which of your email list commercials does best, but that would be complicated. Instead, try creating a customized list building commercial for each type of video you create.
Here’s what that might look like: Say you make 2-5 different types of videos. For example, screencasts of marketing tools, videos of you talking strategy, and maybe videos of you interviewing someone. Make an email list “commercial” customized for each kind of video. So for your screencasts, make a email list commercial about how viewers can get more screencasts if they join your email list. Interview watchers would see a list “commercial” offering them more interviews.
This is basically the same principle of creating multiple lead magnets to match different kinds of content you make. On websites, that technique can double or triple opt-ins. I bet the principle would work with videos, too.

3) Add links to YouTube video descriptions

Every video you publish on YouTube should have a call to action to join your list in the video’s description. These outside links are allowed, and don’t require any fancy html skills.
Want to make them extra-effective: Put your email sign up pitch copy above the fold of the YouTube description. You’ll almost double your sign up rate versus having it below the fold. When it’ below the fold, people have to click on the “read more” link to be able to see it. That extra step just crushes your conversion rate.
Ninja trick for even more advanced users: Spend a little money on Facebook, Google AdWords, or Bing. Test which call to action gets you the most subscribers. Use that tested copy in your YouTube videos… and everywhere else.

4) Use Wistia Turnstile

Wistia lets you embed opt-in forms into your videos. It won’t work if your video is on YouTube, but so long as the video is on your website, or on other websites, the opt-in form will work just fine. Wistia calls this opt-in form feature “Turnstile”. It’s included in their Small Business plan, which costs $25 a month.
Turnstile lets you choose where in the video you want the opt-in form to appear, like 15 seconds into play or in the first frame. You can also choose whether or not you’ll let people continue to watch the video if they don’t complete the opt-in form.
Wistia is compatible with GetResponse (of course!), so hooking your opt-in forms in your videos up to your GetResponse campaigns is quite simple. There’s a video on how to integrate Wistia with GetResponse here.
Wistia has gotten opt-in rates as high as 11% with their Turnstile opt-in forms. They have a nice post about how they optimized one of their Turnstile videos.
Wistia is not the only game in town for adding opt-in forms to your videos. Also check outViewbixOptinPlayer, and HeroCaster. Viewbix is extra interesting because it’s been updated recently to work seamlessly on Facebook and Twitter. If you want to try getting more subscribers with social media videos, Viewbix may be the ticket, but it’s a super-expensive ticket: $299 per month.

5) On landing pages / squeeze pages

These are so widely-used there’s a name for them: Video landing pages. When they first came out, around maybe 2010ish, they crushed it. Now, video landing pages still work, but not as well. But if you’ve got a landing page that you’ve never tested with video, now’s a good time to change that.

6) In your feature box

Adding a video to a feature box can work extremely well. It doesn’t always beat a static page, but it’s definitely worth a try.
Be careful with the settings for videos in feature boxes, especially whether or not the video will automatically play. There are few things more effective at getting people to frantically leave a site than to have a video suddenly start up in the middle of a quiet office. Because of that, I recommend having the video not automatically play.
Instead, use a cover image or first frame that represents the video and it’s core message well. You win either way with this setup: If your visitor doesn’t click the video, they still see an image that supports your opt-in call to action. If they do click to play the video, then you’ve got the chance to make an extended pitch.

7) Use video for the format of your lead magnet.

There are several questions to ask if your lead magnet is not performing well:
  • Is the topic irresistible?
  • Is the cover image weak?
  • Is the copy lame?
  • Is the format you’re delivering the magnet in turning people off?
Here’s the painful truth: People don’t want to read. Reading seems hard, at least to our reptilian brains as they zoom through the information tsunami that is the Internet. Videos seem to make things easier. That’s why explainer videos can be so stunningly effective: They take all the hard thinking out. So if your lead magnet is still in text form (about 95% of them are), consider making it into a video, or a series of videos.

8) Use video in your social media updates.

If you use Facebook for marketing, you’ll want to include videos in your updates. Don’t forget you can embed videos in tweets, too. And even in SlideShares, and on LinkedIn. No matter which social media platform you’re using, put up a few videos and include your email list “commercial”. You might find a fresh stream of subscribers.

9) In your emails.

Emails still get shared a lot, especially when they have something extra cool in them. A good video qualifies as extra cool. So try using more videos in your emails. Just follow a few best practices to get the best results.
  1.  Include a call to action like “Know someone who would benefit from this video? Send it to them”. If you’re in a B2C business, consider changing that language from “benefit from this video” to “get a kick out of this video”. “Benefit from” is more suited to business.
  2. Right below where your email urges subscribers to share the email, add a big call to action to join your list. That’s so people who got a forwarded email can join your list easily.
These two extra steps will get you significantly more shares, and significantly more signups. But they’re not the only way to use video for your emails.
Check out these Sear’s videos
They’re only shown on the page subscribers see when they’re about to unsubscribe. This is one of the best subscriber retention efforts ever, and it relies entirely on video.
To view the original article Click Here

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Is Facebook a Waste of Money for Marketers?

There has been lots of noise lately surrounding the effectiveness of marketing on social channels. But don't be fooled - your brand does indeed need to maintain a presence on social platforms.
There has been a lot of public hand-wringing lately about the new Facebook policies that require marketers to pay for marketing messages. Brands that spent a lot of time, effort, and advertising dollars in the last few years building up their fan communities are upset with new restrictions on the promotions language and messaging allowed in News Feed posts. If posts look like an ad, smell like an ad, or quack like an ad, marketers will have to pay to get them circulated within their News Feed. This coincides with the release of a new Forrester study questioning the effectiveness of social channels, Facebook and Twitter in particular, for brand goals. Is it the end of social marketing dominance online? Hardly.
Disconcerted brands and agencies seem to think that Facebook owes them uninterrupted, unfettered access to Facebook users. But Facebook, like any public company, is chiefly beholden to its shareholders that demand growth. Social businesses balance a hybrid of audiences, growing paying customers and non-paying users at the same time only if they can simultaneously meet the needs of both audiences and do so better than the other options in the marketplace. Facebook has customers (brands and agencies who buy ads) and users (consumers who participate in their platform and draw ad dollars but don’t pay anything). Ultimately, the two groups have different interests that are hard to reconcile. While users may gain some benefit from the brands that provide content, information, and experiences to them for free; the main benefit of social communities for users does not rely on brand participation. The same is not true for the reverse. Marketers use social communities expressly to reach consumers and would find no value in social without the ability to reach highly targeted users reliably and consistently at scale.
Facebook, at least in its public policies, prioritizes the needs and experience of its users. It’s the long play and it’s hard to find fault with that decision even though it limits some of the opportunities that marketers have enjoyed on their platform to date. In making decisions in the best interest of users, Facebook protects and grows the user base, strengthens connections among users, and ultimately provides for more commercial opportunities. It balances the seemingly opposing sets of needs by putting a stake in the ground for users. As long as Facebook continues to provide a viable and efficient way to monetize a good user experience then everyone (shareholders, advertisers and users) can continue to enjoy the ride. Consumers for free. Marketers for the price of a ticket.
Enter Forrester and its study claiming that brands are wasting their money on Facebook and Twitter. Forrester makes a convincing, data-driven case to demonstrate the reductions in organic consumer reach that have been well documented and deeply felt by marketers for some time. No news there for anyone in the industry or paying attention. The shift to pay-to-play is real, it is not reversing, and it is up to marketers and the agencies that support them to make the appropriate adjustments in how they use or don’t use social and other digital channels to support their key business objectives with their given resources. Sure, if we doggedly keep doing things the same way when the rules and results change then we can easily waste a lot of money. We can also waste a lot of money if we use the same social playbook or expect one channel or placement to meet all our various needs for awareness, conversion, or other goals. The set of choices will expand and contract as social businesses roll out new ad products and policies and as competitive channels, platforms, and ad opportunities emerge and become viable. Strong organizations will continually assess their options and adjust their approach to social content, communications, and distribution in order to stay relevant and get in front of their audiences. They have to be prepared to pay for social access – just like they would at any other point of digital distribution, and that should prompt changes in their strategies and tactics.
Facebook will continue to evolve its business to meet the needs of consumers online and has proven itself adept at doing so to the tune of billions of users and dollars. You don’t want Facebook to stop evolving because the nanosecond that it chooses to stand still, it stops being as relevant to users and as valuable to businesses. The same advice would be well heeded by marketers. Like other areas of digital marketing, success in social marketing favors the nimble, not the outraged.
To view the original article Click Here

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Using Analytical Analysis to Help Improve Conversions

If there is one thing digital marketers want more of, it is success from their sites and marketing initiatives. Of course, no one likes declining sales trends or even the occurrence of just "bumping along." Where do you look for guidance, though? The latest digital marketing book, SEO platform, or digital marketing tool? The secret typically lies in accessing the biggest hammer in your marketing tool bag, analytics!
Understanding what interactions and behaviors are taking place on your site can provide a great amount of guidance as to what you may need to revise on your site to affect conversion rates. The first step in finding reason from the analytical data is realizing that your site users fall into several groups. First and foremost, converters and non-converters, but also several others such as by age group, new vs. returning user, mobile vs. desktop, and so on. Each of these user groups have different needs as well as perceptions of your site. It is up to you to identify there interactions and behavior and take more non-converters and transition them into the converters.

Roll Up Your Sleeves

Our analysis starts with setting custom dimensions. These analytical filters allow us to initially review two type of visitors, those who convert and those who don’t. For many of the sections below it will help to set these segments so you can see the differences between groups. Lucky for us, Google Analytics has predefined segments for converters and non-converters.
Choosing only one segment at a time to view the following areas in Google Analytics.

User Flow

Review the typical user through the site by converter and non-converter. First, where does a converter typically enter the site and how many pages do they traverse before converting? Second, where does the non-converter typically enter the site and how many pages do they traverse before we notice a considerable exit rate/drop off.
For the converters, is there a noticeable rhythm of great internal linking to keep them traveling through the conversion funnel from the starting point(page)?
For non-converters, where are most people entering the site? Where we see the drop-off primarily happening, is there a lack of calls to action, links to related content, or confusion in navigational linking?

Content Drilldown

While User Flow is a nifty visual for understand page progression and drop-off rates, Content Drilldown is an alternative data view for those a little more linearly inclined providing a table view for you to walk through top content pathways from within our custom segments. Now go your site and click through these pathways and gain an understanding of what may be providing reasons for users to leave the site.


Now that we have a general understanding of overarching user flow behaviors of our converters vs. non-converters, we can likely start coming up with a little more insight on where we may be able to improve our conversation optimization efforts based on who these users are and where they are coming from. Since mobile traffic is all the rage these days and its contribution to overall site traffic is on the rise, let’s review our two segments within this analytical vertical.
(Hmm… I think we have a conversion issue with mobile)
Does your percentage of conversions from mobile users compare with the percentage of overall mobile traffic which contributes to total site traffic? If mobile conversions are 2 percent of total conversions and 20 percent of overall traffic, you may have an issue.


With our minds still surrounding the segmentation of converter and non-converter, let’s know look at demographic data. We understand how these two types are walking through the site, but who are they? By reviewing gender and age group data with secondary dimensions set to Landing Page, you can get a much better understanding of what demographic lens you need to wear when reviewing certain pages. To gain a better understanding of these underperforming demographics, create a custom segment based on this demographic and review User Flow or Content Drilldown to assess their entire journey through the site and where drop off is likely occurring.
Do call to actions and internal linking on specific landing pages speak to the interests of that gender or age group? For example, your older female age group may be suffering a low conversion rate. If you are selling Osteoporosis supplements and internal linking on a major landing page for this segment to related articles and resources for sports related injuries, you aren’t providing enticing pathways to avoid site drop-offs.

Reverse Goal Path

We have walked through site pages by converter and non-converter segment as they traversed the site but another angle to help assess is via reverse goal path. Of course we now walk away from having to segment by converter and non-converter, as we know that this view is only from those who have converted into said site objectives. In this section we will take a look at the conversion point and what pages recently provided the last few steps to conversion. This is where we will want to walk a few pages back in the conversion funnel and assess calls to action. We know what works and can now compare that with pages we saw earlier which were high drop off points. How can we revise the drop off pages to be more like these conversion funnel landmarks?

Funnel Visualization

For those that have taken an analytical review of improving conversions before, this is one of the oldest methods of conversion optimization review provided by Google Analytics. We have walked through a few user types and their pathways through your site, but Funnel Visualization concentrates more so toward the latter part of the conversion process. Here, we can access drop-off issues in the final steps of the conversion process.
If users are dropping out of the funnel but not exiting, what pages are they going to? Why are you providing links in the end conversion process to usher them away from the site?

Multi-Channel Attribution

I think one of the most powerful advancements in Google Analytics over the past few years is multi- channel attribution. It has provided a great wealth of what channels work well together and helped marketers form the mindset that it isn’t just SEO, paid, social, etc. - these channels often times work together. A quick glance under the hood here can let you know a lot more goal information than a quick last touch by default goal attribution by medium view. For example, you may have seen an organic sales slide in the last few months and never realized that paid search is a channel that serves as a first touch point with the site and they return days later via organic. When you axed your paid search budget a few months back, it may be hurting you more than you think!

See, That Was Easy

The beautiful thing about Google Analytics is that there is still a myriad of comparative views we can undertake. We didn’t even take a look at obvious areas of review such as exit pages and sorting landing pages by bounce rate, etc. What I did want to do is provide a few fairly easy ways to review your conversion optimization potential utilizing deeper analytics offerings from Google Analytics via segmentation. The above will likely only take you a few hours to complete, but a few hours that could help you ramp up the conversion percentage of your site visitors.
To view the original article Click Here

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

5 Mistakes That Hold Back Your Content Marketing

Content marketing tactics and strategies that used to be awesome may now be obsolete. Successful content marketers must roll with the constantly changing industry if they want to stay successful. What “new” mistakes are you making? Here are the top five.

Mistake 1: We use content marketing for link building

Old-school SEO used to be about link building. The mantra was, “the more links to your website the better for your business.” Content marketing rolled right into this link-building strategy, producing content to get more links. That has changed. Now, instead of the quantity of links, there are a lot of other factors that influence a site’s rank and influence. These include citations, brand mentions, and quality of links.
If you’re creating content just for the links, you’re going to run into problems. Google does not look kindly on anything that smacks of link building. So, what is the goal of content marketing?
John Hall, CEO of Influence & Co., shares five business goals for content marketing:
  • Brand awareness
  • Brand loyalty
  • Customer education
  • Customer engagement
  • Talent recruitment
Noticeably absent from this list are traffic and click-through rates. Hall puts it bluntly: “Promotional links and other lovely tidbits that a company thinks will directly result in increased traffic will come off as spammy, diminishing the quality of the content, and severely damaging credibility. Readers are smart, so creating an article with the intent of driving traffic will only prevent your audience from drinking the Kool-Aid you’re serving.”
Traffic is still a good thing, and I’m all about building traffic the right way. If you get links, great. Consider it as a nice by-product, but don’t set it forth as your goal.

Mistake 2: The more content, the better

It used to be that if you produced more content, you would win the content marketing game. Today, however, content generation has surpassed search volume.
Rand Fishkin of Moz calls it “content fatigue.”
Patel - 5 Mistakes - Image 1 (1)
Fishkin predicts that content marketing is approaching a scary point: “Whatever you’re doing … had better be so runaway incredible that you can earn and own an audience soon, before the world of content (potentially) goes from the Wild West, to an overcrowded, hypercompetitive field where standing out to jaded, fatigued consumers is 10 times harder than it is today.”
Tao of Twitter author Mark Schaefer calls it “content shock.” Different term, same thing. He writes, “Content shock [is] the emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.”
CMI’s Joe Pulizzi has been waving the content-proliferation red flag for a while. His bottom-line assertion is this: “I’m done with more.”
Let me use an example from personal interactions. Do you absolutely love it when people talk more or talk louder? Do you enjoy the constant barrage of talking, talking, talking, and talking?
No. In conversation, more is not better. It’s not much different in content marketing. The people we really listen to are people who have something to say — something worth saying – who convey it in a way to which we prefer to listen.
Now, instead of telling content marketers to produce more, the experts are telling us to produce better. We need more nuance:
  • Better content invariably means less content. We can’t produce the best possible content at breakneck speed.
  • Better content has an upper threshold. You can only get so much better. Just like we reach a ceiling in quantity, there’s also a ceiling to quality. When we reach this threshold, we need to find a new direction. And that new direction might be the direction of differentnot better.
  • Better content depends on the audience. It doesn’t just mean longer or more detailed articles with perfect grammar and spelling. Better content is content that addresses the audience in the most powerful and direct way.

Mistake 3: If I create it, they will come

The famous line from the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, he will come,” has been paraphrased into a misguided mantra by many in the content marketing industry.
The problem is that the mantra – if you create it, they will come – is not true.
As I explained in the Advanced Guide to Content Marketing, “The secret to content marketing boils down to three things: creating great content, making sure it gets found in search engines, and promoting it to your followers.”
If you don’t market your content, your entire content marketing effort will fizzle and die.
When he speaks on why content marketing fails, Moz’s Fishkin shares this illustration:
Patel - 5 Mistakes - Image 2
It’s not quite that simple, a point that Fishkin makes. Let’s change the quote: “If you create itand promote itthey will come.”

Mistake 4: A blog is the best way to do content marketing

A lot of people think that content marketing means “blogging.” Content marketing is more than just creating a blog and publishing articles. That’s only one of the many forms of a successful and full-orbed content marketing strategy.
There are plenty of forms of content marketing that can thrive with or without a blog:
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • eBooks
  • Guides
  • White papers
  • SlideShare presentations
  • Podcasts
  • Contests/giveaways
  • Live chats/hangouts
  • Webinars
  • Pin boards
  • Screencasts
Is a blog the best means of content marketing? Maybe. I’ve found a lot of success in blogging. But blogging may not be best for every business. In fact, I know for a fact that some businesses should not rely on blogging for their content marketing efforts.
For example, let’s take a really niche industry – vibratory equipment for industrial recycling. The players in this field are not, as a whole, into reading blogs, from what I can tell. (If they are, please correct me.) A blog covering vibratory equipment for industrial recycling probably wouldn’t have the readership or ROI given the rather narrow audience. For this particular group, using content marketing tactics on LinkedIn might be more successful. LinkedIn is where key figures in the vibratory industry are gathering, talking, and connecting.
How do you figure out which method of content marketing is best? You research your audience, and learn what forms of content best connect with them.

Mistake 5: All you need is content

The phrase, “content marketing,” is misleading because you might think that the content itself is the marketing. Actually, you need to ensure one piece of content – a call-to-action – is included to make it true content marketing designed to help your business goals. In Social Media Today, Sarah Quinn writes:
“Call-to-actions (or CTAs) are the real moneymakers, and seamlessly incorporating them into your content experience is key for conversion. Whether the action you’re trying to get people to take is to subscribe to your blog or download an eBook, that CTA should be contextual. Put yourself in the position of the people whom you want to respond — is the CTA relevant? How will they find it? At what point are they most likely to click?”
You don’t want your content to turn into a sales pitch. No one wants that. But you can introduce relevant CTAs where appropriate. You can generate leads without being salesy. Content and marketing go together, and one should complement the other.
If you persist in content marketing, but avoid mentioning your product, your service, or your solution, then your content marketing efforts won’t have the ROI that they deserve.


We all need to realize that content marketing is changing. Today, virtually everyone is doing content marketing of some form or anotherBut are you doing it right? If you are making any of these mistakes, you may just be spinning your wheels.
What other content marketing mistakes do you see being made? We would love to have you share in the comments.
To view the original article Click Here

Monday, 24 November 2014

Why Your Blog Doesn’t Stand a Chance in Hell of Succeeding (and What To Do About It)

You dream of building an online empire.
A popular blog with hordes of loyal readers who hang on your every word.
You want to be as successful as your idols, changing the world and even getting paid to do so.
But you know you haven’t got a chance in hell of seeing that kind of success unless you can truly engage your readers and keep them interested over the long haul.
Of course, the big question is how? Engagement is an elusive creature.
Sure, you get the occasional nice comment, but it’s not like people are raving about your blog, or tripping over themselves to share your content.
You worry that you’re not connecting, that your words don’t resonate deeply with your readers, but you’ll be damned if you can figure out the magic formula.
And the truth is, unless you can find a way to connect powerfully with your readers, your blog is doomed to failure.
But there is a way to captivate and keep your audience’s attention, even if you’re a beginner, and even if you’ve tried before with limited success.
It’s a game changer, one that can take your blog from teetering on the brink of failure to achieving the success you dream of.

The Real Reason Your Blog Is Growing at a Snail’s Pace

You know the feeling. You’re reading a blog post and it grabs you and pulls you in. You relate to what the author says so strongly you feel like she’s reading your mind. So much so that you’re tempted to check your house for wiretaps!
The result – you feel compelled to respond. You leave a glowing comment, share the post with your friends, and bookmark it to read again later.
Then you wonder, how did she do that?
The answer is empathy – the master key to all doors leading to blogging greatness.
Simply stated, the better you understand your audience, the more enthusiastically they’ll respond to everything you do. Without empathy, your blog doesn’t have a chance in hell of succeeding.
But what if you’re not blessed with the natural abilities of Deanna Troi? Don’t worry: you can develop your mind-reading skills.
But only if you ignore some of the most common advice about empathy.

The Problem with Popular Advice About Developing Empathy

Conventional wisdom says that to understand your audience you should create a detailed profile of your ideal reader – their income, education, gender, hobbies, even what pets they own.
Then you’ll be able to write for that one person in a way that makes your entire audience feel like you’re reading their minds. At least that’s the theory.
But if you actually try this exercise, two problems usually surface right away:
  1. You spend way too much time obsessing about getting these details right.
  2. You end up concentrating on trivial information that doesn’t matter.
Of course, if you’re writing a personal finance blog aimed at 20-somethings, then yes, details like age will matter. If you are helping women with business, or men with style, then gender will be important.
But don’t create differences where none exist. Don’t fret over whether you’re speaking to a 32 year old with a master’s degree or a 38 year old without a degree if those things aren’t common characteristics of your audience.
Instead, turn your attention to the things that do matter.

Where to Focus Your Attention If You Really Want Readers to Stick Around

Here’s the big idea…
You can only develop empathy with your audience if you have a deep understanding of real readers, not theoretical “ideal” ones.
That means understanding the people who already visit your blog – and the people who may do so in the future but are currently hanging out elsewhere.
But what if you don’t know where your readers spend their time online? Then you must play detective.
Follow the people who share your content on social media and notice what else they’re sharing. And when readers leave comments on your blog, try to find other places where they are commenting. Those other sites will be a treasure trove of useful information about your readers too.
Will these sites have your exact audience? Probably not. But they will likely have a lot in common with yours. And even if you have to rely on educated guesses in the beginning, the more subscribers you attract for your own blog, the more you can base your writing on real evidence instead of crystal-ball gazing.

How to Become a Master of Empathy by Stepping Inside Your Readers’ Heads

The key to showing empathy is convincing your audience you know exactly what they’re going through. Show them that you understand (and even share) their concerns and preoccupations.
The basis for this is not some collection of ideal demographic characteristics, but four simple drivers of human behavior: dreamsdesiresfears and frustrations.
If you know your readers’ biggest dreams, deepest desires, most paralyzing fears and most frequent frustrations, then you hold the keys to a passionately engaged audience.
So effective is this model that Jon Morrow – The King of Awesomeness (and Empathy) – insists that all of his blogging students must create lists for their own audience. They take two pieces of paper and write Dreams & Desires at the top of one page and Fears & Frustrations at the top of the other.
And here’s the kicker – the lists aren’t done until there are 100 points on each!
It’s tough, and it takes a while to complete. But it’s one of the most valuable exercises you can undertake as a blogger.
But where do you find the information to fill out your lists?

Where to Find the Clues You Need to Become a Masterful Mind Reader

Populating your lists requires a combination of educated speculation and careful research.
But start simple. Write down some dreams, desires, fears and frustrations based on your current understanding of your audience.
For example, no matter what your niche, your readers are probably afraid of failure. They may worry they’re not reaching their full potential, or fear they’re wasting their time pursuing something that has no future. They probably worry about what others think of them too. These are the high-level fears. Include these in your list, but then drill down.
Think about what failure means specifically to your audience. Bloggers, for example, can feel like failures in many different ways. They can work hard and yet never get comments or shares. They can fail to grow their lists, or sell their first product. They can fall short of the recognition they feel they deserve.
Drew Eric Whitman, in his book Ca$hvertising, identifies eight basic desires that all humans are born with and nine more that we learn.
The following eight basic desires are biologically programmed:
  1. survival/enjoyment of life/life extension
  2. enjoyment of food and beverage
  3. freedom from pain, fear, and danger
  4. sexual companionship
  5. comfortable living conditions
  6. superiority/winning/keep up with the Joneses
  7. care and protection of loved ones
  8. social approval
In addition to those, we learn to want:
  1. to be informed
  2. to be curious
  3. to have clean bodies and surroundings
  4. efficiency
  5. convenience
  6. dependability/quality
  7. to express beauty and style
  8. economy/profit
  9. bargains
Think how each of these desires manifests in your audience. And how failing to fulfill these desires could be the source of a fear or frustration.
For example, if you blog about sports and fitness, your readers will want to avoid the pain of injury caused by incorrect technique.  And if they’re runners, they probably obsess about the footwear that will help them to avoid that pain.
If you’re a nutritionist, you know your audience will care about having energy, avoiding sickness, and getting the highest quality food at the best prices, all of which stem from their desires for survival, life enjoyment and extension, quality, and bargains.
In my case, the audience is creatives – writers, musicians, artists, designers, etc. One fear we all have in common is making fools of ourselves in public (which relates to the desire for social approval). So, when I did this exercise, I had a main category under Fears & Frustrations called, “Making a fool of myself” and I included the following entries underneath: I’ll be criticizedpeople will make fun of meI’ll be exposed as a fraudI’ll screw up in publicI’ll waste money on bad adviceI’m not ready for bigger things, and I’ll look like an idiot.
Many creatives also have a strong desire to leave a legacy. So, in my “Leave a legacy” category under Dreams & Desires, I included becoming famousbeing remembered for my workbeing appreciated by my peersbeing a trendsetterchanging the worldinspiring people, and improving people’s lives and situations.
Once you’ve made a start on your lists using this method, you can start to flesh it out with data from the real world.

3 Simple Ways to Gain Access to Your Readers’ Innermost Thoughts

You don’t have to steal your readers’ email passwords in order to know what they’re thinking. Instead, try these tactics.

1) Observe and take notes

Watch the interaction between readers in your blog post comments, on social media, etc. Collect and keep track of all the great nuggets – anything relating to fears, frustrations, or their most cherished dreams.
In “An Open Letter to Writers Struggling to Find Their Courage”, Jon wrote a controversial post that had readers not only replying to him, but also discussing amongst themselves.
For example, Leigh writes to Leah –
Fwiw, I am married with a kid and I don’t have a full time job beyond my writing. I’m building a business. I’m writing books. I’m guest posting.
It is scary, and I’ve made sacrifices to make it happen. But I also did it the other way for too long, and these sacrifices are far better than always wondering when I would finally write.
So here are some fears – around supporting a child, having to make sacrifices, and “wondering when I would finally write” – that are repeated by commenters several times in response to this post.
In the same post, you’ll find big dreams too:
Personally, I have a 2 year plan to write full-time which some people think is crazy. This post was just the rocket fuel I needed as assurance I’m on the right track!
Of course, not everyone has an audience as large as Jon’s, but even a modest following can yield useful insights. If your content is hitting a nerve, you’ll see those discussions played out, just on a smaller scale.

2) Listen to what they are already telling you

If you already have direct contact with some of your readers – maybe you have clients or customers who reflect your blog audience – then you already have a great source of insights for your empathy lists.
Collect and save any insights your audience gives you – whether it comes by email, in person, by phone or over Skype.
When someone tells you, “I’d love to work from home more like you do. I’d really love to set my own schedule,” you know that one of their desires is more flexibility. So add “flexible schedule” to your Dreams & Desires list.
And don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions until you get to a real understanding of the issue. Your goal is to understand not just what they think and feel, but why.
If a reader mentions that the hardest part of a project is getting started, ask “Why is that the hardest part?” Maybe they don’t have a process figured out yet, or they’re afraid they’ll fail, or they can’t find time in their schedule. Add their answer to your list under Fears & Frustrations.

3) Go right ahead and ask them what they think

Instead of waiting for valuable information to drift in, you can create a simple survey, email your subscriber list, canvas social media followers, or write a blog post to ask about people’s biggest dreams and scariest obstacles and to find out what they need to move forward.
Keep your questions open-ended to encourage responses. And remember that people won’t always feel comfortable sharing in public spaces like blog comments, so offer to take conversations over to the privacy of email.
I recently asked my readers about their visions in our Facebook group. Everyone wanted to change the way the world thinks in some way. They wanted to work from anywhere. Some wanted to write fiction. All of them wanted to help others. These are all dreams and desires for my list.

Build Your Empathy Muscles by Looking Beyond Your Own Blog

If your current audience is small you’ll need to look beyond your own blog to gather more empathy-building intelligence for your lists. And even if your blog is more established, casting the net wider will help you to understand the people who might read your blog in the future.
So use your earlier detective work to create a hit list of other blogs you suspect your audience reads in addition to yours. Chances are, those blogs hold clues to attracting and engaging a larger audience for your own blog.
Study their most popular posts and see what readers are saying in the comments. Use the process described above to distill their dreams, desires, fears and frustrations.
Use a tool like Buzzsumo to find content that has gone viral in your space. Notice people’s reactions to it and pay close attention to the emotions it triggered or any needs that it fulfilled.
Use Topsy to research viral Twitter content to find which which issues set your audience alight on that platform.
Dan Cassaro, a graphic artist, had a tweet that went viral when he responded to a network’s request he submit his art to a contest without compensation. This one caused a reaction among creatives who are often asked to work for free – a huge frustration for that group.
When a topic blows up like this on social media, it can be a powerful addition to your lists.

Using Empathy to Create Content that Grabs and Holds Your Readers

Once you have your two lists, you’ll use these insights to guide everything you write.
Think about which items on your list keep your readers up at night. Fears that keep them awake with worry. Dreams that keep them awake with excitement. Your headlines and post content will flow directly from these points.
Use your lists to craft headlines that hook readers in and openings that tap into their deepest thoughts. You’ll build loyalty and credibility because your readers will know you understand them, and you’ll inspire change because your readers will trust you to guide them.
The following examples (one real, one imagined) show headlines and post openings that channel readers’ fears of criticism:
How to Feel Confident Sharing Your Creative Work in Public
Putting yourself on the line publicly with an idea you’ve hatched or art you’ve created is one of the toughest things you’ll ever do…
Are you terrified of public speaking or performing? Do you have a collection of poems or short stories you never show anyone? Maybe a basement full of watercolors you keep safely hidden away? If fear is getting in the way of your sharing your work with others and you’d like to change that, I have a solution for you.
10 Surefire Ways to Bounce Back After Unfair Criticism from Family and Friends
You know what it’s like. You put your best effort forward and think you did a pretty good job – that is until your overly critical parent decides to point out all your mistakes and failures.
It’s one thing when you know that you’ve messed up, but quite another when you know you’ve done good work and that some people around you simply don’t understand.
And these examples are driven by the desire to leave a legacy:
How to Be Unforgettable
Can I tell you my worst nightmare?
It’s not just dying, although that’s certainly gruesome. It’s being forgotten. Down deep, I believe all of us have a primal need to be remembered, to pass something on to future generations, to leave some mark on the world saying, “I was here.”
4 Smart Ways to Make Sure Your Work Is Never Forgotten
It’s scary, isn’t it? The thought that a lifetime of hard work won’t be remembered or appreciated after you’re gone. The possibility that everything you’ve created only mattered to you but not to anyone else.
It’s not magic. Even though we like to believe that we’re all completely unique individuals, when we cluster around a topic, we’re really very much alike.
Follow this process and you’ll see that the closer you get to your reader’s “hidden” secrets, the bigger a reaction you’ll elicit and the more they will love you for it.
And you’ll know you’re on the right track when you get comments like this:
  • “Thank you so much; this was perfect timing!”
  • “This was exactly what I needed to hear today.”
  • “It’s like you were reading my mind!”
  • “I’ve been putting this off, but I’m going to get started right away.”
So revisit this exercise often. Toss out your old notes and start over again. Each time, you’ll be strengthening those empathy muscles.

Do You Want a Blog That’s Thriving or Just Barely Surviving?

You don’t have to settle for a blog that’s met with modest enthusiasm and lukewarm engagement. Empathy is not just a born talent – it can also be a learned skill.
Empathy allows you to connect with your readers in a way that will excite them, build loyalty, and have them hanging on your every word.
So put your lists of dreams, desires, fears and frustration at the heart of your writer’s toolkit – they are as important as your thesaurus or your battered notebook of ideas. Use them to guide everything you write – blog posts, emails, even your About Page.
Repeat the exercise a couple of times a year and you’ll be blown away by the reaction from your readers. You’ll understand them so well that they’ll wonder if you’re now the one setting the wiretaps.
So grab two pieces of paper and get started. Your wildly popular blog awaits.
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