Friday, November 17, 2017

How to Create a Highly Effective Value Proposition

I see people make this mistake all the time.

They come up with a slogan and assume it’s an effective value proposition.

Yes, slogans are a great way to build your personal brand.

It’s a great way to help consumers remember who you are.

But slogans are not value propositions.

What’s a value proposition?

It’s a unique message to the consumer that conveys the main reason why they should buy from your brand.

Your value needs to be relevant to the customer. Explain why your brand, product, or service can offer a solution to a problem.

Be specific when you’re talking about these benefits.

Differentiate yourself from the field.

Why should your target customers buy from you instead of your competitors?

Overall, this message needs to attract customers by creating value.

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Keep these five types of value in mind while you’re coming up with a unique proposition:

  • Functionality – Focus on convenience. What problems are you solving? Why is your company better than the competition?
  • Emotions – Put emphasis on the most attractive part of the product or service. How can you get customers emotionally attached to your brand?
  • Economics – Mention any financial advantages. Is your product less expensive than alternatives? Will it save your customer time or money in the long-term?
  • Symbolism – Figure out what your company represents. Will your customer feel environmentally responsible after shopping? Or will your product elevate their social status?
  • End value – Stress the importance of customer satisfaction. Be clear and concise. What are you guaranteeing?

If you’re looking to improve your current value proposition or build one from scratch, I can help.

I’ll tell you everything you need to know about creating a highly effective value proposition.

Focus on your target market

Your value proposition should not appeal to everyone and anyone.

Define your target audience.

You won’t be able to please everyone, so don’t try to.

Trying to reach a wider audience with your value proposition could potentially backfire.

It could end up turning people away.

Here’s an example from Dollar Shave Club:

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Look at the wording and terminology they are using in this value proposition.

I pointed out a couple of key points.

It’s clear they are trying to appeal to a younger audience.

Older generations may not understand the “level 9 yogi” analogy of their flexible cancellation plan.

The same people may not respond well to something as informal and direct as “C’mon. Do it.”

But Dollar Shave Club clearly defined their target market.

Changing their value proposition to something more basic could turn off their existing customer base.

Why?

People could see a generic pitch as boring or not as cool.

This company handles their value proposition really well in terms of focusing on a specific audience.

The small things make a big difference

What added value can you provide?

It may sound like something small, but it could make or break the customer’s decision to buy something from you or a competitor.

If you offer added value, show it off.

Here are some examples:

  • Free installation
  • Free shipping
  • Next day delivery
  • Cancel subscription at any time
  • Money back guarantee
  • Fully customizable

Don’t wait until the checkout page to tell customers about these benefits.

If you don’t put it on your homepage, they may never even get to your conversion page.

Look at how Bed Bath & Beyond accomplishes this on their website:

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The website visitors instantly see two pieces of added value:

  1. free shipping
  2. free truck delivery

Now they know they can get their order shipped free even if they are buying furniture.

It can entice them to add something big, like a couch or a table, to their shopping carts.

According to Marketing Land, free shipping is the top incentive for consumers who shop online.

image3 11

This is an essential piece of information to anyone in the ecommerce industry.

Why?

Because it’s something that adds value to the customer.

How to present your value proposition

There’s no perfect way to display your proposition.

It’s not like there’s a blueprint that has specific requirements.

With that said, there are certain components you should consider when coming up with this display on your website.

Start with a headline.

Keep it short, and try to grab the customer’s attention.

Next, create a subheader.

It will be slightly longer than your headline, adding a little bit more information.

The subheader should be specific.

You’ll also want to come up with a few sentences that describe your brand, product, or services in greater detail.

It’s always helpful to include some bullet points that outline some of your top benefits or key features.

Images work well too.

Visuals help make the customer understand exactly what you’re offering or how the product works.

Let’s take a look at the value proposition from Square:

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I love this homepage because it encompasses everything we just discussed.

The header instantly grabs the attention of prospective customers.

What exactly does the company do?

The sub header explains that you can “accept credit cards anywhere,” and the brief description goes into greater detail about how it works.

Square also included bullet points with their top features:

  • free magstripe reader
  • take chip cards
  • countertop POS system

What does the product look like?

The image shows exactly what they’re offering.

Showing scale implies more added value as well. It’s so small that it can fit into your pocket.

If you’re struggling to come up with a layout for your company’s value proposition on a website, you can treat Square’s site as a template.

Just swap out their benefits and description for your own.

But what if you don’t know your top benefits?

If that’s the case, it sounds like you have a marketing problem or a possible issue with your company’s identification.

It’s fixable if you’re willing to put in some research.

Think back to what we outlined earlier.

Start with your target audience.

Conduct a study.

Here’s an example of some critical consumer research in the IT industry in relation to the value proposition.

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If you’re in the IT field, you should focus your proposition on:

  • ecommerce
  • landing design
  • online experiences
  • analytics
  • innovation
  • digital transformation

That’s just one example.

It’s up to you to conduct research based on your company and industry.

Reach out to your customers directly and ask what they’re looking for.

Create online surveys. Conduct customer interviews.

This will help you accomplish a couple of things at the same time:

  1. build a better relationship with your existing customers;
  2. use the information to create a value proposition that attracts new customers.

Essentially, you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Test your value proposition

Now that you’ve developed a value proposition, it’s time to make sure you have it optimized to maximize conversions.

A/B testing is one of the best ways to do this.

Make sure you test only one thing at a time.

If you change too much, you won’t know which aspect of the test increased or decreased conversions.

Here’s an example from California Closets:

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At first glance, these website versions appear identical.

The only thing changed was the heading.

Split-testing your website to find out which part of the value proposition is more effective will increase your conversion rates.

After you test the header, test something else.

In the example above, they could test the background image next.

They could also add more bullet points or put the bullets on another part of the screen.

The options are endless.

Another way to test your value proposition is through pay per click (PPC) advertising campaigns.

For the most part, we’ve been discussing your value proposition in relation to your website.

But that’s not the only place where you’re trying to acquire customers and get conversions.

It makes sense to have an effective value proposition on other platforms as well.

Consider using Facebook’s PPC services.

It just depends on how much you’re willing to spend.

The placement of your advertisement will impact the price.

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Back in 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion dollars.

If you want to run a PPC campaign on Instagram, you have to go through Facebook.

This will be one of the most expensive ways to test your value proposition through PPC advertising.

However, if you have the funds, you could get the most accurate results with this method.

But don’t feel obligated to use Instagram.

Facebook offers other, more affordable, placement options.

If you’d like to avoid Facebook and social platforms altogether, you’ve got other options.

Consider running your PPC testing through Google AdWords.

You can test your value proposition at a local level or internationally.

Google lets you set this up by:

  • cities
  • regions
  • countries

Less than half of small businesses are currently investing in PPC advertising.

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Even if your business is small, you can still take advantage of this strategy.

It will give you an edge over your competitors.

Focus on customer emotion

The emotional value was something we briefly discussed earlier.

I want to elaborate on this because I think it’s important.

Triggering an emotion in your value proposition can elicit a certain response from your customers.

In your case, obviously, you want this response to be a sale or conversion.

Take a look at how different industries are rated based on emotional responses:

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How can you elicit certain feelings from your customers?

Think about the goals and mission of your company.

Your value proposition should portray what your business represents.

Here’s an example from Mercedes-Benz:

image12 9

Look at the phrases they are using in the top left corner:

  • benchmark of luxury
  • peak of intelligence
  • eloquent expression
  • leading edge luxury

It’s clear what kind of emotions they are trying to elicit.

They used the word luxury twice, so they’re targeting people who want to have a very specific experience.

Symbolism.

This car portrays a certain level of social status.

That’s how they have effectively branded their company.

Let’s take a look at another example that’s on the opposite end of this spectrum.

We’ll discuss a company involved with charitable organizations.

Have you heard of Project 7?

image11 11

They sell gum and mints.

A portion of their sales goes to nonprofit businesses, suppliers, and distributors who help people in need.

The money goes to 7 different missions:

  1. Save the earth
  2. House the homeless
  3. Feed the hungry
  4. Quench the thirsty
  5. Heal the sick
  6. Teach them well
  7. Hope for peace

Businesses that give back to the community both locally and internationally should be proud of what they’re accomplishing.

Share that information with your customers in your value proposition.

It can trigger an emotional response leading to a sale.

Conclusion

If your company has a catchy slogan, that’s great.

But your slogan is not the same thing as a value proposition.

Your value proposition should talk about the functionality of your brand, products, or services.

What differentiates your company from the competition?

Your value proposition won’t appeal to everyone.

Don’t worry—it doesn’t have to.

Focus on your target market.

Mention any added value as well.

Even if it’s something small like free shipping, free installation, or a money back guarantee, it could be the deciding factor that drives a sale.

Learn how to present your value proposition:

  • header
  • subheader
  • description
  • bullet points
  • images

After you build an initial value proposition, test it.

I recommend using A/B testing and PPC advertising to find the best option for your layout.

What does your company stand for? Use this to generate an emotional response from your customers.

If you follow these tips, you can create a highly effective value proposition.

What added value does your business offer to differentiate itself from the competition?



from Quick Sprout http://ift.tt/2mAec7n

Thursday, November 16, 2017

How to Build a Social Media Following of 10,800 in 17 Days

So, you want to get famous on social media, huh?

Even if you personally don't want to get famous, I'm sure you'd love for your business to extend it's reach and influence. You've likely heard of the value that a great social media following can bring to your business and you'd like to get there as quickly as possible.

What I'm going to provide you today are a few unique strategies that can help you gain a presence quickly, rather than just the tried and true slow and steady approach of “being active” on social media.

To be completely up front, a few of these strategies I've implemented and seen great success with.  And a couple of these I have not tried yet, but will be over the coming weeks and months.

Stick around, because I'll be sharing what I learn through this social media experiment in future blog posts.

To give you an idea of what I've done recently, I want to share a quick success story.  On Oct. 14th, 2017 I started a brand new Facebook business page.  I started with zero followers like everyone else.  However, in just 17 days, I grew it to 10,800 fans!  Plus, I have an additional private Facebook group in the same niche of nearly 500 highly engaged followers.

I'll share exactly what I did below.

Why Build a Following? Here's a Few Examples…

Is building a social media following just a vanity metric, or is there actually value in having lots of followers on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter?

Certainly in some regards, building large social metrics can be useless if the people behind those numbers aren't actually interested in you or your brand.

However, if you have an engaged audience that is willing to click your links, share your products, and actually pull out their wallets and pay…then having a large social media following can be an immensely powerful asset.

Rather than just take my word for it, I wanted to share a few success stories of people building very real businesses off the back of social media.

BeardBrand

Although it's difficult to know exactly how much money BeardBrand is making each month, it's safe to say that it's alot.  A few years ago they went from non-existant to $120,000 a month in sales in about a year.

According to the founder, Eric Bandholz, the company generates roughly 50% of all it's sales from social media traffic!

Eric started out being very active on Youtube and Reddit to start his brand.  However, you can see that the company does very well on a variety of social media channels.

They've clearly found a model that works by building a fanbase on social medial and driving that traffic to their online store.

Overall, BeardBrand has proven that social media can have a HUGE impact on a business.  Building the right following of raving fans can lead to massive sales.

Shawn Johnson East

Yes, she was an Olympian.  And her husband played in the NFL.

So, without a doubt they had an advantage in building nearly 500,000 subscribers on Youtube and 1.4 million followers on Instagram.

However, Shawn is a perfect example of someone that proves how valuable social media can be.  As explained in a recent interview, she makes much more now (as does here former NFL husband) with their social media following than they ever did before.

To reiterate, this couple makes more being active on social media than they ever did being an Olympian or professional football player.

Shawn reguarly helps brands launch their products to great success, as she often explains on the TV show, Adventure Capitalists.  So, Shawn makes money with her social media following through advertising, direct sponsorships, and ownership in brands that she promotes.

Not a bad way to make money at all.

Bottom line, social media works.

SneakerNews.com

What if you just have an affiliate website, and aren't a celebrity (like Shawn Johnson)?  Well SneakerNews.com is a good example of company driving a ton of traffic through social media.

With over 6.7 million followers on Instagram and nearly 500,000 fans on Facebook, this brand can drive a lot of traffic through their social media channels when they want to.

The best part is that they are actually an affiliate website!  They simply make a commission when they refer someone to Nike, eBay, or other shopping website that sells the shoes.

Now obviously this company is smart and does more than just social media.  They are actively producing content that ranks in Google as well.  However, the raving fan base they've built on social media is quite impressive.

Oh, and they don't follow a single person on Instagram.

How I Built a Facebook Fan Base of 10,800 in 17 Days

Now that you can see how valuable building up a social media following can be, how do you do it?

Well, there are 3 primary ways to build your following.  I'll share all 3 with you.

First is good old fashion hustle.  I'll share more details on this traditional option of starting from scratch.

However, the way that I quickly built up a Facebook page to nearly 11,000 “likes” in about 17 days was less traditional, I suppose.  I decided to run “like” campaigns to build up my social presence.

That's right, this isn't a free option.  But it's an option that works very well if you have a little money to spend.  In total, I spent $997.31 running ads on Facebook from Oct. 14th to Oct. 31st (17 days).

On Oct. 13th, I had no “likes” on this brand new Facebook page (in a niche completely unrelated to Niche Pursuits).  Then I started running “like” campaigns on Facebook for the sole purpose of getting people to like my new Facebook page.

As you can see from the image below, it worked very well:

That equates to a cost of roughly 10.8 cents per like on average.  I should point out that our ad costs were closer to 15 to 17 cents per like, but we also got some organic likes along the way that brought the overall average down.

As soon as I created the page, I also made sure to post multiple times a day (anywhere from 2 to 7 times per day) to keep it active and the audience engaged.  Most of the posts were just motivational thoughts and images that were relevant to my audience.  However, I also mixed in links to my own website to start driving a little bit of traffic.

(I created this Facebook page in a niche where I already have a website, so I had plenty of existing articles that I could link to on my existing niche website).

The social media traffic coming to my website increased about 20 fold from Oct. 14th to Oct. 31st!

You can see from the image below what my typical social media traffic is to my site and then what it grew to:

This screenshot from Google Analytics shows traffic coming from social sources only.  The traffic grew from roughly 10 or 20 visitors per day from social media to 200 to 500 visitors per day.

So, social media can absolutely drive traffic to your website.

What is a Like Campaign on Facebook?

This is not meant to be a comprehensive tutorial on how to run like campaigns on Facebook; however, I'd like to at least give you enough details to be dangerous.

I would also like to clarify I am not talking about “buying likes”.  There is a big difference between running like campaigns and buying likes.  Running ad campaigns to generate likes is a totally legitimate way to build a following.  Buying likes through services is not a legitimate way to build a following.  You can read more about why buying followers is a bad idea here.  But in a nutshell it's because fake audiences don't have real engagement and won't drive real revenue for your business.

On the other hand, Facebook (and other platforms have similar tools) has ad campaigns you can create called “like” campaigns.  Essentially you can create a Facebook like campaign, which will put ads in the newsfeed of the audience you specify.  When they click the “like” button, they become your fans or followers.

Adespresso has a great guide on how to create your first like campaign.

There are 3 critical components to running a successful like campaign to build a following quickly.  First, make sure you target the right audience.  You can select from millions of options on Facebook, so be sure to think through the demographic and interests that you want to target.

Second, is the headline of the ad.  You can obviously test several variations of the headline, but again, think about the one phrase that your perfect audience would resonate with.  Use that as your headline.

Finally, is your ad image.  Try to find an image that both resonates with your audience, but also stands out a bit on Facebook.  Depending on your audience a lower quality image might do better than a higher quality image.  Or one with bright colors might do better than one with darker colors. 

With these 3 variables, you can then test different ads to see what gets you the lowest cost per like.

Setting up a like campaign on Facebook is very simple and you could be up and running in just a few minutes.

What Should You Do With the Social Media Traffic?

Now that I have a Facebook fan page of over 10,000, what should I do with it?

If you are in the same situation, you COULD do a number of things:

  • Launch your own products (physical, digital, software, etc)
  • Drive traffic to an affiliate website and make money from Amazon Associates or display ads
  • Get paid to do sponsorship posts – see Famebit.

My personal plan is to create a membership site (digital product) that is a perfect fit for my audience.  A key part of this membership site will be a private Facebook group.

In fact, I've been mentioning the private Facebook group on my Facebook page (that I just built) and now have nearly 500 really active members in this group!  My plan is to then turn this group into a paid Facebook group for about $10 a month (it would remain free for any existing members).

I expect to launch this new membership site in the first week of December.

So, for now, I'm making very little money from my Facebook following; however, I have a new product I'm creating that will be launched in just a few weeks that I hope does very well.

I will share progress updates over the coming weeks and months, so be sure to follow along.

Method 2: How to Build a Social Media Following for Free

So, the way that I built a following quickly wasn't free, but it's a very valid strategy if you have a little bit of money to spend.

However, if you are more interested in building a following for free, there are plenty of options.  I will try to share a few general strategies briefly because I know you are smart of can fill in the gaps, but also because each social media platform is different.  (So, I'll share more in-depth posts that are platform specific in the future).

If you are starting from scratch, here are a few ways that you can build your following (this can apply to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and more).

Invite Your Existing Friends

Perhaps the easiest way to get started is to invite your friends and family to follow you on social media.  If you have a personal Facebook account, you can ask your friends and family to like your business Facebook page or Instagram account.

This might not move the needle a ton, but it will get the ball rolling.

Be Active and Engaged

You need to post multiple times per day with content that your audience will enjoy.  Not only post content, but also respond to comments and engage with your audience.  

Follow Influencers

See what strategies are working well for successful influencers in your niche and see how you can implement something similar.  Comments on influencer pages and share your links or content when it's appropriate on those pages.

Following others can work quite well on Twitter in particular, since many people will follow you back once you follow them.  However, I wouldn't recommend going overboard here.

Cross Promote on Other Social Media Platforms

If you have any kind of presence on Twitter or Instagram (for example), try to drive some of that audience to your Facebook on Youtube pages.

Blog and Email List

Be sure to add your social media links on your blog to make it easy to share content and for people to become your followers.  In addition, you can start adding your social profiles links in your emails as a way to generate new fans.

Hold a Contest

You can use software like Contest Domination to do a giveaway.  You give something away and people have a shot at winning by sharing the contest on social media.  This can build engagement and a following.

Make Something go Viral

I wish I could say I've had success with this, but I haven't.  However, there are plenty of examples out there of companies that were basically non-existent that built up significant followings on social media with one video or other piece of content.

Creative content can generate attention and interest.  So, even though this isn't easy to achieve, creating great content on a regular basis is still a smart business move.

Method 3: Buy a Social Media Account

In preparation for this blog post, I had the opportunity to connect via email with a social media influencer that had some interesting insights to share.

He really caught my attention when he said, “I currently manage over 10 million followers on social media and do over 10 billion impressions a month a times all organically through the various accounts I have.”

Wow, 10 million followers!  This must be someone famous that we have all heard of right?

Wrong.

Turns out that Kyle (I'll only share his first name), really is a behind the scenes guy.  He doesn't put his own name out there, but has several different accounts in various niches that all add up to millions of followers.

I had to get him on a phone call.

So, last week I picked his brain for an hour about what he does and how he does it.

My first question for him was, “Okay, so what's the secret?  How can I build a social media following quickly?”.  His answer wasn't what I was expecting.  He said, “Don't build it from scratch, go buy a popular account”.

This wasn't at all what I thought his strategy would be.  He then went into a long explanation of how he and many others buy and sell entire Facebook pages, Instagram, Twitter, and accounts on other platforms.  Rather than working for years to build up something with 100,000 followers, he just goes and buys an account that already has this many followers.

This got my wheels turning, as perhaps it is for you as well.

Is this legal?  Absolutely.  The owner of the social media account is completely turning over his or her account to you to own and run as you please.  In exchange, they get money.

Do Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram care?  Not really.  In fact, they all make it fairly easy to transfer ownership.

How much does something like this cost?  Well, obviously the price varies based on size of following, niche, but even more importantly, the engagement of the audience.  If you buy an account with 100,000 followers, but there is next to no engagement, then it's like throwing your money in the garbage.

But if you buy an account with just 10,000 followers that is super engaged, then perhaps your investment will pay off quickly.

Kyle shared with me where he buys his accounts, but it's an invitation only platform, so I won't share it here.  However, if you do a quick search, you will see that there are plenty of marketplaces where you can buy or sell social media accounts.

To be clear, I have not yet purchased any social media accounts before, so I can't vouch for how valid any of these marketplaces are.  However, a couple of websites that regularly sell social media accounts (just as examples) are ViralAccounts.com, FameSwap.com, and SocialTradia.com.

Like anything, I'm sure there are plenty of other places that you can buy accounts.  Or you can always contact account owners directly to see if you can buy their account.  While contacting people is more work, you are also likely to find better deals if you find the right seller.

For example, you could buy an Instagram account with 49,860 followers on FameSwap.com right now for $2,500.

According to the listing, the current owner makes $500 to $1000 a month from this account.  (Who knows if that's really true, but it very well could be).  And if you had your own products in the body building niche, you could probably leverage this audience for much more than $1,000 a month.

Or you could buy this Pets Life Instagram account on SocialTradia.com with 104,000 followers for $2,000.

The more I spoke with Kyle, the more I began to understand how well a buying strategy could work.  Obviously some accounts are much more valuable than others, and you have to do your due diligence; however, you definitely can drive traffic and sales with social media accounts.

Now it's up to you to decide which route you want to take.

A Quick Recap and My Plans…

Overall, if you want to build a social media following, you have 3 options.

  1. You can use ads to get likes and followers.  Yes, this costs money.  But you get to target the exact audience you want and you can quickly build a following if done correctly.  I was able to grow a Facebook fanpage in my desired niche to 10,800 fans in just 17 days.
  2. You can go the standard route of building everything organically through content and social interaction.  While this method is free, it is usually the slowest option of the three.
  3. Finally, you can buy social media accounts and instantaneously have access to a large audience.  The downsides are that it might be hard to find an account that matches your audience perfectly.

Over the next couple of months, I plan to implement all 3 strategies as I use social media to grow one of my businesses.  I plan to blog about my progress here, so I hope you'll stick around and follow along.  I'll be sharing specific strategies for growing audiences on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and possibly others. 

In addition, I plan to share exactly what works and what doesn't for me as I implement these strategies.

Finally, as you follow along and implement some of these ideas in your business, I hope you find success!  I will be looking for success stories in the next 2 or 3 months of people that have implemented some of the things I talk about. 

So, as you see success, please let me know and we'll figure out a way you can share that on NichePursuits.com.

The post How to Build a Social Media Following of 10,800 in 17 Days appeared first on Niche Pursuits.



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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How to Increase Profits by Analyzing Your Competition

How well do you know your competition?

Depending on your industry or location, the market may be saturated with businesses providing the same services or offering the same products as your company does.

Not everyone will survive.

Sooner or later, one or two companies will separate themselves from the crowd.

If you want to be an expert in your niche, you’ll need to learn effective competitor analysis skills.

Otherwise, you could put yourself at risk of falling behind those businesses that adopt these strategies first.

As a marketing expert who founded several startup companies, I’m well aware of how competitive certain spaces can be.

It’s not easy to operate a business, especially when you’re worried about the guy down the street taking customers away from you.

Whether you’re a small-town business or a global ecommerce store, you need to analyze your competition.

If you’ve never done this before, I’ll show you how to get started.

My techniques will help you improve your business and increase profits fast.

Identify your competitors

Knowing your competitors may sound obvious to you, but you’d be surprised how many people I meet can’t name their competitors.

Those of you who fall into this category have to identify your top competitors before you do anything else.

Even if you know who your competition is, it won’t hurt to start here. You may be find new information.

Let’s say you’re a local business selling sandwiches in Seattle.

Run a search on Yelp:

image8 10

Simple.

The top results will be advertisements, but that doesn’t mean those aren’t your competitors.

Don’t disregard them completely just yet.

Here’s something else to keep in mind.

You’re looking only for your direct competition.

If your sandwich shop also sells cookies or pies, you’re not looking for bakeries or specialty dessert shops.

You’re also not competing with every bar in your neighborhood that has a sandwich on the menu.

Make sense?

So filter your search to get more accurate results:

image3 10

If you click on the “all filters” tab, you can narrow the results.

For this example, I’d recommend picking a price range similar to yours and a place in the same neighborhood.

If your most expensive menu item is $12, you don’t care about the gourmet restaurant 8 miles away selling $45 sirloin steak sandwiches on their dinner menu.

Now that you’ve got a more accurate list, write down your top competitors.

In a busy city, like Seattle, you may find upward of 30 sandwich shops in your neighborhood alone.

That’s way too many.

Look for businesses with the most reviews and the highest ratings.

Narrow that list down to 5 or 10 at most.

Yelp isn’t your only resource.

Depending on your business, you can also reference Google Local or Angie’s List.

However, these platforms may not be helpful if you’re trying to identify competitors in a digital marketplace.

If your operations are run completely through a blog, website, or ecommerce store, you’ll need to use other tools to identify your competitors.

Try using a service like SimilarWeb:

image10 10

They offer lots of competitor analysis tools, including competitor identification.

All you need to do is put in the name of your website, and they’ll generate a list of your competitors.

They have a free sign-up option, but to maximize your research, I would recommend paying for an upgraded subscription.

If you don’t want to pay for a subscription, consider reaching out to your current customers.

Creating an effective customer survey can help you learn more about their habits.

Send a survey to your subscriber list asking them to identify other websites they shop at or blogs they read.

Who is their target audience?

Now that you’ve identified your top competitors, it’s time for you to see whom they are targeting.

You can’t assume their target market is the same as yours.

Don’t believe me?

Let’s continue with the local sandwiches example.

Here’s a chain sandwich shop called Cheba Hut:

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Take a look at the names of the sandwiches on their menu.

Also, notice how they refer to their different sizes.

Based on your research, you may have identified this company as a top competitor.

They have the same hours as you; they’re close to you; and they sell sandwiches at the same price point.

But it’s clear this business is trying to appeal to a certain crowd.

It works.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not saying you need to adopt this strategy and look for a niche market to focus your marketing strategy on.

All I’m saying is you need to identify the target market of your top competitors.

After further analysis, you may determine you want to make some adjustments, but we’re not quite there yet.

Here are some things to consider when you’re identifying your competition’s target audience:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Income
  • Gender
  • Marital status

Your results won’t be perfect, but try to come up with an accurate customer profile based on their advertising campaigns.

Your Google ranking is essential

How can you be better than your competitors?

You both have the same type of content on your website.

You’re targeting the same customers.

They even update their site, services, and products as frequently as you do.

Why are they ranked so much higher on a Google search than you are?

You need to understand the components of Google’s ranking algorithm:

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Visit your competitors’ websites.

Evaluate their SEO.

Determine how they are using keywords to boost their search ranking.

Look for keywords and phrases in the following places on their sites:

  • Title pages
  • H1 headings
  • H2 headings
  • Internal links
  • URL structure
  • Content

Do you notice a pattern?

See what words are getting used the most in these places.

It may have an impact on their rankings.

Compare their content to the keywords on your site.

Are you using long-tail keywords?

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You should be.

Incorporating a long-tail strategy into your content creation will improve your ranking because it’s more specific.

Ecommerce sites use this tactic all the time to get more hits.

If you’re selling a pillow, adding the word “pillow” all throughout your content isn’t as effective as using terms like “down pillow for side sleepers.”

Is your competition using this strategy?

If so, that’s probably why they’re outranking you in related search results.

Analyze competitor content

Take your analysis one step further.

Getting customers to your platform is only half the battle.

But what do these people see once they arrive?

Here are some other things to look for on your competitor’s page:

  • Blogs
  • Pictures
  • Videos
  • Case studies
  • Buying guides
  • FAQ pages
  • Podcasts
  • Guest posts
  • CTA

Compare these to your own website.

They may have certain features you’ve omitted from your site.

I’m not saying you should automatically mimic the structure of their pages, but see what’s working for them.

For example, let’s say you discover your top three competitors have a blog. And all three outrank you on Google.

You should consider adding a blog to your site.

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This data about the benefits of blogging speaks for itself.

Adding a blog to your website will help you:

  1. Generate more leads
  2. Increase conversions
  3. Get more inbound links
  4. Have more indexed pages
  5. Gain trust from consumers

And that will lead to increased profits.

Something else to keep an eye on while you’re analyzing their website is their calls to action.

How is your competition adding subscribers, generating leads, or converting sales?

Look at their sales pitches.

See what benefits they are offering.

How do their top features compare to yours?

You may realize your product and service are significantly better than those of your competition.

But that doesn’t mean anything if you can’t relay that information to your customers.

Look at how marketers are failing to use CTAs:

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Reviewing the CTA on your competition’s website could be an eye-opening experience for your marketing department.

Your competitors may excel in areas where you’re lacking.

That’s okay for now. But it needs to be fixed before you fall too far behind.

Look at their social media presence

All businesses should have a presence on social media platforms.

For now, I’m going to assume your company is active on at least some of the most popular platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram

If not, you need to follow my social media guide.

For those of you who already have profiles set up, navigate to your competitors’ pages.

How active are they?

What are they posting?

Are their customers engaged with their posts, photos, videos, and comments?

Here’s an idea.

Start adding their followers.

These people are obviously interested in your industry if they are following your competitors.

Maybe they don’t know your company exists.

Don’t be selective. Add all of them.

The more people you add, the greater your chances of getting customers to follow you back will be.

Understand why consumers follow brands on social media:

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Once they start following you, it’s essential you keep them engaged.

Keep in mind, some of these people may have already established a brand loyalty with your competition.

You really need to blow them away to convince them your brand is better.

See what kind of promotions your competitors are running on social media.

Try to run one that’s more appealing.

How do they incorporate videos into their social media marketing strategy?

Video content makes up more than 90% of Internet traffic.

You should be using live video to engage with your customers.

Even if that’s something your competition isn’t doing, it’s a great way to stay ahead of them.

Recognize areas needing improvement

Now that you’ve analyzed your competitors’ customers, websites, marketing strategies, and social platforms, it’s time to adjust your business.

Based on your research, what areas of your business need improvement?

Where do your competitors excel while you struggle?

There’s always room for improvement. Don’t be biased.

It’s okay to recognize your competitors are doing well.

Run a SWOT analysis:

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Here are some questions to ask yourself.

Strengths

  • What are you doing well?
  • How have you separated yourself from the competition?
  • What makes your company unique?

Weaknesses

  • What do you need to improve to compete with your top competitors?
  • What resources or tools do you need to achieve that?
  • Do you need to change your location or conversion method?

Opportunities

  • What is the current public perception of your company?
  • How can you target new customers based on your competition’s strategy?
  • Are there any new changes in the industry or market?

Threats

  • Which competitors are directly impacting your revenue?
  • What’s preventing you from improving your business?
  • How are you leaving yourself vulnerable to losing customers?

These questions are just a starting point.

You can take this SWOT analysis much further to make the necessary changes and improvements.

Conclusion

If you want to increase profits, start by analyzing your competition.

Competitor analysis is an effective strategy for businesses in all industries, whether your company is large, small, or somewhere in the middle.

The first thing you need to do is identify your top competitors.

Narrow this list down to 5 or 10 at the most.

Only look for direct competitors—not just any business similar yours.

Once you’ve identified these companies, you need to focus on their customers.

What’s their target market?

How are they appealing to these customers?

Focus on your Google ranking:

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Analyze your competition’s website to see what kind of SEO tactics they’re using.

Review their content, and compare it to your own.

What pages on their site generate the most user engagement?

Consider adding a blog to your website if you don’t have one already.

Check out the social media profiles of your top competitors.

Start adding their followers in an attempt to draw more customers to your business.

Use the SWOT analysis to recognize and implement any necessary changes.

Making these changes can help improve your business and increase profits.

Which online tools will you use to identify the top 5 direct competitors in your industry?



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Monday, November 13, 2017

How to Increase Revenue Without Acquiring New Customers

What’s your company’s growth strategy?

Businesses need continuous development to get out of a plateau.

I’ve spoken to many people about their marketing plans, and most of them are trying to come up with new ways to add more customers.

While customer acquisition is great, it’s not always necessary if your primary goal is to increase revenue.

Focusing on your existing customers will save and make you money too.

Don’t believe me?

Calculate your customer acquisition cost:

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That’s how much money it takes for you to get just one new customer.

Was it higher than you thought it would be?

If you’re spending too much money on customer acquisition, it could bleed your company’s bank account dry.

Now, divide that number by 7.

Do you think that’s a little bit more reasonable?

Well, that’s how much it will cost you to retain an existing customer:

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Plus, it’s easier to retain a customer.

They are already familiar with your brand, products, or services. There’s no learning curve and no need for the proof of concept with these customers.

You just have to keep them engaged and give them a reason to keep coming back.

If your current growth strategy isn’t working, it’s time to put a new one to the test.

Instead of focusing on new customers, put more effort into your existing ones.

Emphasize the customer experience

Evaluate your process.

What’s the step-by-step procedure a customer needs to go through to complete a sale?

Put yourself in the shoes of a consumer, and build a customer journey map.

This will help you determine the strengths of your organization as well as areas needing some improvement.

Having repeat customers doesn’t mean your system is perfect.

Your customers may not be completely satisfied, but they’re waiting for you to make the necessary adjustments.

Anything you can do to make things easier for the customer will improve their experience.

That’s why nearly 90% of businesses say customer experience is a driving force for loyalty and retention.

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Here’s why that’s important.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers said they would pay more for a better customer experience.

That’s right.

Your existing customers are willing to pay more for your products and services if you can improve the existing process.

But here’s a problem I see all the time. Businesses don’t know how to identify those areas that need improvement.

Earlier I suggested building a customer journey map, but that doesn’t work for everyone. You need to ask your customers directly.

Create surveys.

Conduct interviews.

Give your customers an opportunity to speak their minds.

Even if they are complaining, it’s good for your business.

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For every 26 unhappy customers, 25 will leave without saying a word.

You still have the opportunity to salvage the relationships with the ones who complained.

Chances are if one customer has feedback about your company’s product or service, they aren’t the only one who feels that way.

Take the results of your surveys and interviews very seriously.

Here are some examples of improvements you can make:

  • simplify the checkout process
  • provide more personalized products or content
  • optimize your website for mobile devices
  • offer more discounts or promotions
  • adjust your customer service hours

I realize it’s tough to implement lots of changes at the same time. But don’t get overwhelmed.

Focus on one thing at a time, and make sure each adjustment improves the customer experience.

Enhance customer loyalty

Loyalty is a key factor in customer retention.

Just because your repeat customers continue to buy from your business does not mean they are loyal.

Your company may just be convenient for them at the current time.

Here’s a hypothetical scenario to illustrate my point.

Let’s say you own a local coffee shop.

You have a customer who comes in nearly every day for their morning espresso.

This customer doesn’t like going to national chains, and you’re the closest local spot to their home.

They don’t mind the 10-minute drive each day as long as they are supporting a local business.

However, a new local coffee shop just opened up, and it’s only 2 minutes away from the customer’s house.

A loyal customer will continue to make the 10 minute drive to your place.

See the difference?

It also depends on your industry:

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Look at where coffee is in this graphic.

It’s a retention-dependent industry whereas a low-frequency purchase, such as a vehicle, is more dependent on acquisition.

The average American has a car for 6.5 years. It’s difficult for an auto sales company to maintain customer loyalty over such a long period of time.

But it’s not impossible, especially if you can get that customer to keep coming back for regular maintenance and services on their vehicle.

What’s the best way to create loyalty?

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In the ecommerce industry, you have to have strong email and social media marketing skills.

Both of these channels keep customers engaged, allowing you to establish personalized connections with them.

I’ll elaborate more on these topics as we continue.

Master your email marketing strategy

Don’t make it complicated.

Email marketing may be simple, but it’s super effective.

Make sure your messages provide value to the recipient.

Don’t send emails just for the sake of starting a new campaign.

Consider the following reasons for contacting your subscriber list via email:

  • keep them informed (new product, website update, etc.)
  • news release
  • discount or promotional offer
  • shopping cart abandonment message
  • order confirmation (plus order shipped and delivered)
  • surveys

Don’t spam your customers.

Receiving emails too frequently can be a major turn off for them and cause them to unsubscribe from your list.

That’s counterproductive.

For retail businesses, email marketing had the most significant impact on customer retention rates:

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Here’s something else to consider.

Not all your current customers are subscribed to your email list.

Converting your existing customers into your subscribers should be part of your retention strategy.

You just have to give them an incentive to sign up.

Offer a discount.

Look at how Perry Ellis does this on their website:

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You can use the same strategy on your site as well.

Ecommerce stores can also include an opt-in CTA in the order confirmation messages to those who checked out as guests.

You’re contacting these people regardless, so it makes sense to give them this option.

To give the customer some extra incentive, you can include a discount or exclusive offer here as well.

Personalize your communication when contacting customers via email.

Include their first name in the message.

Consider your tone when you’re writing.

Your voice shouldn’t sound robotic (even though the message might be automated).

Which one of these opening lines sounds better to you?

“Dear valued customer,”

or

“Happy Friday, Susan!”

The second option is much more personal.

This strategy will increase your open rates.

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You can use your email marketing strategy to re-engage with customers who haven’t been active in a while.

This message will show them you appreciate their business.

If you can re-connect with a customer who hasn’t bought anything from your brand in the last 6 months, it will help increase your revenue.

Here’s an example from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital:

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Even if your company isn’t a nonprofit organization, you can still employ the “we miss you” tactic.

Embrace social media to connect with your customers

If you want to have high customer retention rates, you can’t slack off in the social media department.

Consumers use Facebook for much more than just uploading pictures from their most recent vacations.

They want to interact with brands as well.

There are over 65 million local businesses on Facebook’s platform.

Your customers are significantly more active on these social channels than they are on your website.

It’s much more convenient for them to contact you here.

This goes back to what we discussed earlier regarding the customer experience.

If the only way your customers can contact you is Monday through Friday via telephone between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, that’s going to limit customer satisfaction.

But if you’re active on social platforms like:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YouTube,

your customers have more options and can select one based on their preference.

If you can find ways to increase engagement with your current customers, your revenue will grow as a result.

Live video streaming can help you accomplish this.

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Consumers love live video content.

Compared to a pre-recorded video, people watch live streams three times longer, which means they’re engaged.

Think of your stream as a television show.

Don’t just come on randomly whenever you feel like it.

Schedule a time once a week to broadcast so your followers know exactly when they can expect to hear from you.

Getting weekly viewers can establish brand loyalty, which we discussed earlier.

Marketers who currently use live video to engage their existing customers believe it establishes a more authentic interaction with the viewers.

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Here are some additional social media engagement tips:

  • respond to all comments on your page
  • post every day
  • answer customer service questions as fast as possible
  • run exclusive promotions

That last point is one of my favorite techniques, especially if you’re trying to create an effective customer retention strategy.

Everyone loves to get something free. So, give the people what they want. Or at least give them a chance to win.

Starbucks does this all time:

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Their #RedCupContest encourages customers to design a cup and share their photos on social media.

It’s a brilliant strategy in terms of brand exposure in addition to the customer retention benefits.

Learn how to cross-sell and upsell

You can generate more revenue from your current customers by getting them to spend more money each time they make a purchase.

Here’s how it works.

Upselling encourages a customer to buy something similar to their initial purchase, but “higher end” (and more expensive).

Cross-selling entices the customer to make a purchase that will compliment something else they’ve bought.

These strategies are effective regardless of your industry.

It doesn’t have to be a tangible product.

For example, if you run a website to generate revenue, you can offer a more expensive monthly subscription to your users as an upselling strategy.

Businesses offering a service such as insurance cross-sell to their customers by offering home insurance as well as auto insurance.

Make sense?

Find out how you can apply these strategies to your business.

B2B companies have adopted this strategy too.

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The more products or services your customers buy from you, the more likely they are to become emotionally invested in your business.

This establishes customer loyalty, the importance of which cannot be overstated.

Conclusion

While getting new customers is always exciting for a business, it’s not the only way to increase your revenue stream.

Look at your customer retention strategy first.

It’s often easier and significantly less expensive to implement than the customer acquisition strategy.

The customer experience is vital.

Focus on ways you can make adjustments that enhance your current process, structure, and platforms.

If you’re struggling to identify areas needing improvement, ask your customers for feedback through a survey or interview.

You need to increase customer loyalty.

Recognize that repeat customers are not necessarily loyal customers.

It’s important to know the difference.

The top two ways to increase loyalty and retention are:

  1. email
  2. social media

Mastering these strategies will improve retention rates throughout the customer life cycle:

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Personalize your email campaigns.

Make sure your email provides value to the subscriber.

Try to get your existing customers to opt in to your email list if they haven’t subscribed yet.

When you’re interacting with customers on social media, you need to encourage engagement.

That’s why live video streams are such an effective strategy.

You can also increase revenue by getting your existing customers to spend more money each time they purchase something.

Cross-selling and upselling techniques can accomplish this for you.

You need to promote your most profitable products and services while learning how to recommend other complementary purchases.

If you follow these tips, you’ll generate more revenue without having to add new customers.

What kind of social media promotion are you going to run in order to engage your followers and increase customer retention?



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