Friday, September 22, 2017

The SEO Strategy Behind The Most Competitive Niche In SEO

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-

SEO doesn’t have to be complicated.

And usually its the simplest strategies that are the most effective.

I have worked to improve search rankings & organic traffic for hundreds of clients all around the world with great success.

And honestly…. there’s no secret sauce to what we do!

The SEO process often boils down to-

  1. On Site Audit – A complete technical SEO audit while developing a keyword strategy with short term quick wins & long term core terms
  2. Link Building – Deploying an effective link building campaign carefully from relevant sites

So I wanted to show the results of that process from a client in the Gambling Tips niche.

I am going to explain exactly what we did and reveal the link building strategy we used!

The Proof Is In The Pudding

Before I show you the “How”, I want to show you the “Why”.

We deployed the strategy you are about to learn in February 2017 which saw traffic grow from 6,000 to 53,000 visitors per month in a very short period of time-

That also makes for some very impressive Google Search Console data as well.

You can see how the site has grown and is command some really nice click through rates across it’s keywords-

Looking at SEMRush:

You can see how the rankings for the site have developed since deploying the network in February which now ranks for over 11,000 keywords-

The Strategy Behind The Case Study

Now let me be clear – this is one of the most competitive niches in SEO period.

The affiliate payouts are huge and your competing against the most experienced SEO’s on the planet.

The Challenge

When my agency first started working on this site, it was 12 years old and traffic from Google had flatlined.

The problem with working on old sites like this is first of all you need to reverse engineer everything that past SEO companies have done to build a full picture.

That often brings up a host of problems we wouldn’t normally have to deal with if we were working on a newer site but its nothing we haven’t faced before.

Step #1 – The Audit

Knowing we had an uphill challenge the first port of call was to complete a high level technical SEO audit.

Sites of this size and age almost always have a lot of legacy on-site and technical SEO problems due to numerous site redesigns, CMS changes and overall structural changes the site was go through as it grows.

crawl results

This client was no exception, so we began the campaign by addressing the most pressing on-site issues that our comprehensive on-audit diagnosed. These included:

Migrating The Site to HTTPS

The site had mixed protocol issues, with both HTTP and HTTPS pages indexed and internal links across the site pointing at both protocols.

We took this opportunity to migrate the whole site to secure HTTPS, setting up URL rewrite rules in the htaccess to ensure that all pages automatically resolve to HTTPS, no matter what protocol a visitor/bot tries to access it through.

We then made sure that all internal links pointed directly at the HTTPS version, so that a consistent protocol was served to spiders and there were no unnecessary redirects.

Sitemap Optimisation

The site had a number of superfluous sitemaps listing dozens of low quality pages that should not have been indexed in the first place.

We removed these sitemaps and replaced them with one definitive sitemap that solely listed the Google facing pages we wanted indexed.

Rich Snippets and Structured Data

The client had a large number of informational and review pages, however they were failing to take advantage of structured data and rich snippets.

so we marked these up with schema tags so that ratings and other content showed in the SERPs.

This delivered results pretty quickly as they gained new knowledge graph entries for a small number of long tail keywords.

On-Page Optimisation

Alongside technical on-site optimisations, we also did a full audit of important on-page elements such as title tags and headers.

We re-wrote 50+ title tags that were poorly keyword optimised, excessively long or missing.

We re-wrote or created 150+ H1 tags that were missing, poorly optimised or duplicated.

We also managed a content overhaul across 21 core pages to update the content and better optimise it for the target keywords.

Backlink Audit

At the same time we completed a full, manual backlink audit – a long process considering the 300k+ number of backlinks the site had.

As you’d expect from a site that had be actively working on link building for over a decade, there were a lot of risky links from old-fashioned techniques.

This is a common problem that we see but its nothing that can’t be fixed.

Step #2 – The Link Building Strategy

After creating a solid foundation to build on during the link audit, we moved onto link building.

We needed to be extremely strategic in the way that we built links to the site.

Due to the volume of powerful links going to the homepage and core internal pages, we knew that the number of links we were building would not make a big proportionate difference to the overall domain authority and link profile.

Instead, we spent a good amount of time studying the existing visibility and rankings of the site in order to identify very high volume keywords that the site had not yet achieved good visibility for.

So we concentrated all of our resources on a smaller number of internal pages, pushing them into first page positions which dramatically boosted traffic to the site.

Building The Most Powerful Type Of Backlink

Our link building strategy was simple-

“Build backlinks from authoritative website surrounded by relevant high quality content”

Now that might sound difficult but remember, SEO doesn’t have to be complicated.

And the easiest way to build these types of links is by using the link building strategy I teach here.

This is the link building strategy that is behind the most competitive niches in SEO and it gives you full control over your link building.

The Secret Sauce

Now I want to be clear with you.

My agency works in the most competitive niches in SEO – gambling, finance, loans, health to name a few and we have had great success after great success.

Because of that we know what it takes to rank in these niches and I wanted to share a little bit of insider knowledge with you.

You see normally if you wanted to rank in the Car Niche, you would get links from related sites and that is what we would normally do.

But in the gambling niche we took a different approach.

Instead of sourcing links from relevant domains, we source links from irrelevant domains but surrounded by relevant content.

So the site might be about cars, but now it has a page about gambling and links to us.

THAT HAS BEEN HIGHLY EFFECTIVE IN THE GAMBLING NICHE!

We are seeing much better results getting links from outside of the betting niche deliver much better results than gambling specific links.

Why?

We suspect that is due to the inherent lack of trust from Google in this sector which is seen across all domains in this niche.

Essentially the trust is so low, that relevance becomes irrelevant and you can power through purely focused on authority links.

Taking Your SEO To The Next Level

If you want to take your SEO to the next level you really only have 2 options.

The first is to let my team do all the hard work for you like the client featured in this post – who knows, you might become our next success story!

The second option is to do everything yourself by implementing the link building strategy I teach here.

Either way, the sooner you decide to take full control of your search rankings – the better!

The SEO Strategy Behind The Most Competitive Niche In SEO was originally published on Matthew Woodward



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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How to Kick Your Email List Building out of a Plateau

Every business owner eventually experiences growth stagnation.

It can happen with sales. And it can happen with your email list.

I’ve been there.

You feel stumped.

Your email list isn’t growing.

What can you possibly do to kick yourself out of this rut?

Well, the exciting news is, you’ve got several options.

Some of them are a fresh take on conventional list-building strategies. Others require you to think outside the box.

In this article, I’ll lay out the most effective techniques for you. You’ll walk away with a step-by-step plan to ramp up your email list.

Before we get into these strategies, I’ve got some crucial advice.

It is imperative that you block and tackle.

What does that mean?

When you’re trying to overcome a period of stagnation in business, it’s important that you put all your energy towards getting out of that rut.

Block a 30-60 day window on your schedule, and tackle only list building during that period.

Nothing else.

Building an email list is fundamental to the success of your business.

The relationship you’ll nurture with your subscribers will determine the revenue-generating power of your business.

In fact, the average email marketer sees a 94% return on investment.

Email Marketing Keep It Clean The Importance of Email List Hygiene Infographic MarketingProfs Article

The strategies you’ll learn in this article will allow you to put your list building on autopilot. It means the time you take to focus on this one thing will be time well spent.

Let’s jump in.

1. Discover your lead magnet opportunities

It doesn’t matter what list-building strategy you’re using. It doesn’t matter which audience you’re targeting.

All list-building roads lead to your lead magnet.

Nobody will give you their email address without receiving an attractive offer in return.

Like this:

Smart Blogger

With that said, the first step is to pick out incentives your target audience would want.

Put these steps into action to determine what that is.

Step #1: What does your audience want?

Think about the ultimate result. If you double-down on their biggest pain point, this won’t be difficult to come up with.

Step #2: What is your overarching solution to helping them get what they want?

Think about the big picture.

For example, if you’re a business coach, your ultimate goal may be to get your clients to bring in more sales and greater profits.

Step #3: What are the small steps required to deliver that ultimate solution?

In keeping with the example above, the small steps can be:

  • build an email list
  • have a content marketing plan
  • launch a product
  • set up evergreen sales funnels
  • hire a virtual assistant

Your best free content lies in these small steps.

It will help you create an offer your audience wants. It will also ensure you give away something that will give them an immediate win.

This is super important for lead magnets.

You want subscribers to consume the content, implement it, and achieve a positive result.

Now that you have an idea of what your audience will benefit from, it’s time to create something concrete.

2. Create your free incentives to attract your ideal audience

I’ll cut to the chase.

Four strategies work exceptionally well.

Strategy #1: Pick out your top performing posts and create content upgrades.

Content upgrades are quickly becoming the gold standard for list building.

Brian Dean boosted his conversions by 785% using content upgrades.

How To Boost Conversions by 785 in One Day The Content Upgrade

Here is how to do that:

  1. Go through your analytics.
  2. Select the blog posts that have gotten the most traffic and engagement.
  3. Create an incentive specific to that piece of content.

Let’s say you write a post “How to Write Blog Posts That Rank on Google’s First Page.”

You can create an “SEO checklist” as a content upgrade and place it within your blog post.

Here’s an example:

6 Step Sales funnel we used to make 220 750 from our online course

The chances of someone signing up to receive this upgrade? Sky high.

It adds to the value of your post as it gives readers a valuable resource to implement what you just discussed.

Strategy #2: Create a brand-specific lead magnet

This is an incentive that stands on its own.

It’s not tied to any piece of content, and it should have a mass appeal.

I don’t mean that it must be geared towards everyone on the Internet. But people in your target market should be attracted by your brand-specific free offer.

Here are some examples:

  • an email course
  • a challenge
  • a resource library
  • an ultimate guide
  • a Facebook group or other online community
  • a content series, e.g., a video series or a blog post series
  • a toolkit

Strategy #3: Create a lead magnet that prepares your customer for a purchase

Most people talk about the first two strategies. But many leave out the most important one.

You must have a lead magnet that is connected to your premium offers.

This applies to a physical product, a service, or an informational product.

This type of a lead magnet is often (not always) smaller and quick to consume. This way, you give subscribers an appetite for your paid product.

For physical products and software, it’s easy to come up with an incentive. You can give away a coupon code, a free trial, etc.

Like Curology does:

Curology Custom Acne Treatment

Here’s a good rule of thumb for info-products and services:

  • your free content can give away the “Why” and the “What”
  • your paid content can be geared towards the “How”

Let’s look at an example from Jeff Walker.

He offers a premium program that helps entrepreneurs launch a product.

It’s called Product Launch Formula.

Home Jeff Walker

His free incentive is a “Launch workshop,” which is directly tied to his paid product.

And that’s what I mean by preparing your customer for a purchase.

This is a smart way to build a warm list of potential buyers.

Strategy #4: Create a promotional lead magnet

The last technique is to run a promotion.

This is where you use a giveaway to accelerate your list building.

When you implement this well, it works wonders. But I’ll admit: it isn’t my favorite strategy.

Why?

For one, it isn’t evergreen.

This isn’t something you can set and forget.

You run your promotion for a particular period. During that time, you have to market your giveaway aggressively and manage it closely.

After your promotion has run its course, that’s it. It has no use to you anymore.

Here’s my advice:

  • run giveaways sparingly;
  • make sure you can execute them well because promotions can easily flop;
  • give away something that closely aligns with your premium offers.

Which of these four strategies should you focus on?

All of them.

The days of one lead magnet are gone.

Of course, you don’t have to create all of them at once. That takes time.

But aim to have each of these types of incentives in your arsenal.

3. Design your website to convert

You’ve come up with your lead magnet ideas, and you’ve created them.

Now what?

It’s time to ensure your website visitors have every opportunity to grab these free resources.

This is not about designing your site from scratch or spending big bucks on web design.

You simply want to ensure that your web traffic is directed to your incentives.

A few tweaks will do the trick.

Here are my recommendations.

1. Place your brand-specific lead magnet above the fold of your website

Above the fold is the upper half of a website page.

It’s that section that a web visitor sees without having to scroll down.

The premise is simple.

You have a few seconds to grab your visitors’ attention. If your primary goal is to collect leads, the first thing users should see is an opportunity to sign up to your email list.

Here’s an example from Blogging Wizard:

Blogging Wizard Discover Actionable Blogging Tips You Can Use

Here’s another example:

Done For You Funnel Service AutoGrow co

2. Create high-converting landing pages for your lead magnets

Every standalone lead magnet needs a landing page. (This rule doesn’t apply to content upgrades.)

If you decide to run list-building ads, you’ll need this asset. If you want to direct your social media traffic to your lead magnet, it will also come in handy.

Let’s talk about the anatomy of a solid landing page. It needs to have:

  • a primary headline
  • a secondary headline or subheading
  • a descriptive statement
  • benefits in bullet points
  • an image of your lead magnet
  • minimal form fields (two fields maximum)
  • a call to action
  • social proof (if you have it)
  • a snippet about you and an image (optional)

I know. Most landing pages don’t include all these elements.

That’s why they don’t work.

I recommend including everything listed above, but if you have to choose, the first seven will do the job.

3. Every time you run a promotion, feature it above the fold

When you decide to run list-building promos, you need to capitalize on that prime real estate.

As I referenced earlier, giveaways require lots of marketing. The more exposure you can get, the more successful you will be.

Just replace whatever is above your fold at the moment with something related to your promotion.

Like in this example:

Giveaway TechnoBuffalo

4. Include opt-in forms in three to seven different places on your site

Apart from landing pages and feature boxes above the fold, you need to have opt-in forms elsewhere on your site.

Why three to seven?

Well, two is not enough to get the job done.

In marketing, there’s this rule that says prospects need to hear your message seven times before it sticks.

Only then will they take action.

I’ve analyzed several of the top sites in various niches. They all have many opt-in forms in that range.

I don’t know what your results will be. You can test it.

In any event, one thing is for sure: the more opportunities you have for web visitors to opt in to your email list, the faster it will grow.

And that’s what you want.

Here are some ideas where you can place these additional opt-ins:

  • within your blog posts
  • in your sidebar
  • in popups
  • on your About page
  • in your main navigation
  • in your footer

4. Keep creating high-value content on a consistent basis

At this point, you’ll start seeing an improvement.

Why am I so sure?

If you create lead magnets your audience wants and optimize your site for conversions, you’re achieving two things.

First, you have a foundation to scale your list building efforts.

Second, you are capitalizing on the traffic you’re already receiving.

That combination alone will make a difference. But let’s see how you can ramp it up.

Content is crucial at this stage.

There are three types of content I recommend.

1. High-value blog posts with content upgrades

In the second step, we talked about the importance of blog posts with content upgrades.

However, you were working with existing content.

You have to keep publishing valuable posts on a weekly basis. If you can create a content upgrade for each article, definitely do that.

What’s the ideal publishing frequency?

That depends on your niche and your audience.

I’ll tell you one thing.

You don’t need to post daily. Consistency is what matters.

One post a week is enough to see results with your list building.

2. Webinars

You may have noticed webinars are in vogue these days.

And with good reason.

It’s a fresh way to deliver value to your audience.

It’s especially powerful for list building because it’s gated content. People have to sign up to your email list to attend.

Here’s the thing though.

Webinars are a strategy into itself. It takes preparation, the right tools, and robust marketing to make it a success.

But it’s worth it.

Webinars typically run about 60 minutes. It means you’ll need lots of content to work with.

The great news?

This content is typically evergreen and can be repurposed into blog posts or social media posts.

3. Social media content

There’s no better source of free traffic than your social media profiles.

I recommend focusing on one main platform where your audience hangs out.

Post consistently. Build an engaged community. And direct that social traffic to your main site.

Conclusion

There’s no dancing around this fact: email list building is central to the success of an online business.

Make it a priority.

Periods of slow growth are commonplace and shouldn’t be a problem. What matters is what you do to get yourself out of the lull.

When it comes to increasing the number of your subscribers, you aren’t short on options.

Follow the strategies I’ve laid out in this article.

If you implement them, you’ll start seeing an increase in your email list sign-ups almost immediately.

Which list-building strategies have worked the best for you?



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Monday, September 18, 2017

How Jake Earned an Extra $379 Per Month in Amazon Earnings with Just 1 Hour of Work

I don't usually try to write sensational headlines.  However, I don't know how else to put it.

Jake put in about 1 hour of work and has now earned $379.51 directly from that work…in the past 30 days.

I want to show you exactly what he did and how you can do the same with your own websites.  This is a strategy that isn't particularly hard to implement; however, in the past it has been extremely time consuming.

However, Jake has been using a brand new software tool (which I created) that makes this job that normally can take hours to only a few minutes.

Let's jump into it!

The Earnings Proof

Before I go any further, I want to share the “money shot”.  Jake has provided this screenshot from JUST ONE of his Amazon affiliate tracking Ids.

This tracking ID was set up specifically to track this strategy, so we know with 100% certainty that all the additional earnings he is seeing come from this new tactic.

Here's the screenshot:

Jake's Site Before the Changes

We have all probably heard the term, “money articles”.  These are the articles that target buying keywords like “best survival knife” or “best can opener” that are obviously related to products that people want to buy.

These articles are easy to monetize and typically is where most of our Amazon affiliate sites are going to make money.

However, if you are smart, you also tend to write articles on more informational topics like, “how to shave” or “how to stop biting fingernails”.  Informational articles can sometimes be easier to rank for and can often have lots of traffic associated with them.

Unfortunately, many times these informational articles are difficult to monetize.

Jake happens to own a site in the home services industry. Without being too specific, it covers common problems that homeowners have that they can often handle themselves, but in many cases they'll hire a professional to come in and do the work. 

It just so happens that the niche his site is focused on doesn't have a ton of products he can be writing about.  As a result, most of his site is made up of informational articles; while only a few are the “money articles”.

As a result, he's mostly just focused on pay per click ads to monetize his site (like Google adsense or Adthrive).  In terms of traffic, this strategy has worked out pretty well for him!  

See his traffic stats below:

See his earnings from AdThrive Here:

Imagine for example, if the site was about getting stains out of clothes – 95% of the articles on the site are about topics like “how to get grease out of a shirt” and “does cold water clean better than hot water.” 

Jake's site was in a similar vein, but he never knew how to monetize these sites outside of pay per click ads…that is until recently.

How Jake Used My New Table Creation Tool

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I've been working on developing a software tool that helps you create beautiful looking product comparison charts in minutes.  These charts automatically pull in images, descriptions, prices, and other details from Amazon (hooray for being Amazon compliant!).  And of course, it automatically inserts your Amazon Associates ID so you can make money.

I gave Jake early access to this tool, and he decided to test it out on his informational “home services” site.  He figured, “well, if I can make money on a few of my articles with product comparison tables, won't I make more money if I add them to more articles?”

Up until this point, he never wanted to go through the pain staking process of creating product comparison tables for each of these articles.  As you probably know, creating one table from scratch can easily take an hour or more.  When you have dozens or hundreds of articles, that becomes so overwhelming that it never gets done.

Once Jake started using my new software tool, he realized that he could create a chart in just a few minutes, without any coding required.

To make things simple, Jake used my software to create product comparison tables by category. So in my example above, he would have had a category about stain removal where all the articles about how to get certain stains out of certain garments would be placed. 
 
Then, Jake created a table to compare all the best stain removal products on Amazon, and used the Ad Inserter plugin to drop in a subheading of “Top Stain Removal Products” followed by a chart on every post in that category. Since Ad Inserter let's you specify, Jake simply put this chart after the 3rd paragraph of every article in the stain removal category. 
 
So as you can see, he was able to create one table and then insert it on dozens of relevant pages within just a few minutes. 
 
He followed the same steps for several other categories, so the products he was showing were always relevant to the problem the reader was having. In the end he created 8 tables and put them on about 225 pages of content based on category. 
 
(Up to this point, Jake had earned some Amazon affiliate income, but it was primarily through text links – like when he would mention a product in an article, he'd link to Amazon). 
 
For tracking purposes, Jake setup a separate tracking ID that he used exclusively on his new comparison tables so he could see exactly how it affected clicks and earnings.
 
This was actually the first time Jake had used the software, so creating 8 tables and putting them across his site took about 45 minutes to do. So, when I say it took Jake one hour to accomplish these results, I'm really rounding his time up from 45 mins! 🙂
 
So, before Jake used inserted these charts, he was making $0 from this special tracking ID.  After 30 days, this tracking ID made $379.51.
 
Not bad for an hour of work!

 

Example Comparison Chart

I thought you might be interested to see an actual table created using my software.  So, below I've created a table for you to browse.  I'm sticking with the stain removal theme from Jake's example.

So, the table below looks similar to the one's Jake used on his site.

 

 
What About His PPC Ad Performance? 

You may be wondering how sending more traffic to Amazon affected the pay-per-click ads that Jake was running. Sure, it's nice that his Amazon Associates earnings increased by $379, but did his other ad revenue decrease?

 
Jake recently moved over to AdThrive which is a more managed solution for serving ads, so the sample size here is pretty small. 
 
That said, the results might surprise you. 
 
August was Jake's first full month using Ad Thrive, and he installed his Amazon tables mid-August. So to get a fair look at how his PPC earnings were affected, he compared August 1 – 15th to August 16th – 30th. 
 
In the first half of the month he had 60,429 page views and made $789.28 from ppc ads. From the 16th to the 30th he had slightly less pageviews – 57,424, but actually made MORE money on his ppc ads – $893.60 to be exact.
 
Obviously, we can't say that installing Amazon comparison tables is what caused his pay per click revenue to increase – but if anything, Jake was expecting his PPC earnings to take a little bit of a dip. To see his PPC revenue actually increase while earning significantly more from Amazon was a pleasant surprise
 

Want More Ideas to Increase Your Amazon Associates Earnings?

Jake and I have had quite a bit of experience growing Amazon affiliate websites, and we have a few more ideas that we'd like to share.
 
As a result, on Wednesday (September 20th) at 5pm PST we will be holding a live training workshop!  During the training, we will cover a few unique ways we've used to increase our Amazon Associates earnings.  One of those ways is using comparison tables of course. 
 
Overall, we will dive deep into a few ideas that you might be missing on your websites right now, that can really boost your earnings.
 
And yes, of course I will also be showing off my new software tool for creating comparison tables towards the end of the webinar and give you a chance to be one of the first people to use it.  I'll also be offering a REALLY sweet bonus for those webinar attendees that decide to become a user of my new software tool.
 
I'll share more on Wednesday night.

For now, please reserve your spot for the live training right here! 

Your Thoughts

As usual, I would love to hear any thoughts or questions that you have in the comments section below.  Have you seen good results from using product comparison tables as well?
 

The post How Jake Earned an Extra $379 Per Month in Amazon Earnings with Just 1 Hour of Work appeared first on Niche Pursuits.



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Sunday, September 17, 2017

How to Vet a New Marketing Channel in 3 Days or Less

I get this question a lot.

“What marketing channel should I focus on?”

There are many make or break decisions in business. This is one of them.

The thing is, I can’t give you a cut and dry answer.

The nature of your business matters. So does the audience that you wish to target.

What I will do instead is give you a method for figuring this out for yourself.

If you’re starting a new business, this decision is critical. Focusing on the wrong marketing channel can set you back months and maybe even years.

If you’re expanding into a new market, selecting the wrong channel can also have massive ramifications.

You’d be putting your existing operations at risk for a new channel that may not pan out.

Just take a look at all the challenges that marketers have to overcome.

top marketing challenges jpg 1 320 783 pixels

You can imagine that each channel comes with a unique set of difficulties.

This speaks to the importance of vetting your marketing plan before you set it in motion.

There’s just too much at stake.

In this article, I’ll show you how you can evaluate your options and narrow down on the best choice quickly.

You don’t need more than three days to get this done.

But first, I have a bit of wisdom to share.

Resist the urge to diversify

You know that voice in your head that says you need to be everywhere at once?

That fear of missing out if you don’t at least try everything?

It’s a diversion. Resist it.

It is imperative that you focus on one marketing channel.

At least in the beginning.

It’s going to shortchange your success if you spread yourself thin.

Here’s why.

  • You’ll have less impact. If you’re focusing on several channels, it means you’re not doing everything you can to excel in any one of them.
  • It will cost you more. Testing and thriving with a multichannel approach costs way more than you may be willing to spend. If you want an organic and cost-effective approach, stick to one channel.
  • You’ll never actually know where your strength lies. Jumping from channel to channel means you won’t truly know the impact of one particular strategy on your business.
  • You’ll remain at the heels of your competitors. That’s not where you want to be, is it? You want to be ahead, and the way to do that is to establish dominance in your market.

Now, don’t misunderstand me.

I’m not saying that you should go all in on one channel and forget the rest.

But multichannel marketing is complex. Only 30% of marketers are confident that they can deliver on such a strategy.

The Importance of Multichannel Marketing Infographic

That’s not a lot.

So what I’m advocating for is starting from a position of dominance.

Put your energy into one strategy until it succeeds. Then, piggyback on that success to achieve wins in other areas.

Does that make sense?

The steps in this article will be geared towards helping you place a bullseye on the ONE channel that will serve you best.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s begin.

Step #1: Know your options

The first thing you want to do is brainstorm all your possible options.

This isn’t something that you have to materialize out of thin air.

There are dozens of ways that you can connect with your target audience and spread your message.

Better yet, each channel has several subsets that you can zone in on.

Here’s a good representation:

How Does Digital Marketing Work Common SEO Questions

Many of these overlap. Some have even morphed into each other.

It can get confusing, quickly.

For example, some people consider SEO to be one marketing channel.

But I can’t imagine a world where SEO and content marketing aren’t intertwined. You can’t do one without the other.

The same thing goes for social media and paid advertising.

They’re different channels. But there’s a convergence.

Let’s imagine you decide to focus on Facebook as your primary social media platform. It would be unwise to not experiment with Facebook Ads.

Considering that Facebook has developed one of the greatest Ad products out there, you’d be underutilizing the full power of the platform.

Marketers agree. Almost 57% plan to increase their social media ad spend.

Industry Statistics Social Media Ad Spending Set to Exceed US 35 Billion Best Digital Marketing Agency Malaysia

I say all this to make a simple point.

While you may zone in on one channel, you’ll see lots of overlap that you shouldn’t ignore.

Go where your audience takes you.

Let’s look at some of your options.

Content marketing

This is about creating and promoting material that is relevant to your target audience.

Content marketing is central.

90% of businesses market using this channel.

Content Marketing Strategy Top 12 Proven Ways You Must Follow

It means that no matter what strategy you use, content will be a part of it.

You can narrow your content down to blogging, guest blogging, podcasts, webinars, email, etc.

Social media marketing

You can use social media as your platform to get noticed, build authority, and grow a community.

You can also use it to drive traffic to your main site.

Or you can do both. It’s effective either way.

Paid advertising

Much of marketing is organic and will take time to generate results.

Paid advertising is one way to accelerate that.

The downside is, you have to pay to play.

Facebook ads, other social media ads, print ads, PPC, and direct response fall into this category.

Public relations  

PR is about building relationships and capitalizing on the optics of your business.

It can be both online and offline. Press releases, conferences, events, interviews, and sponsorships are a few examples.

As you can see, you have no shortage of options when it comes to marketing.

I’ve given an overview of the main ones, but know that you are not limited to these alone.

Step #2: Choose the channels that are aligned with your business goals

You now have an idea of what’s available to you.

It’s time to make a list of all the channels that will serve your business.

Start with your business goals.

Some marketing channels are better suited to achieve a particular goal than others.

Goal setting is a flexible thing. You can make changes as your business evolves.

This means that the marketing channel you use right now may not be viable when your business progresses.

Consider what stage your business is in and what your goal is for the next 90 days.

According to Jay Abraham, there are only three ways to grow a business:

  • Increase your number of customers
  • Increase the amount that a customer spends on a purchase
  • Increase the frequency that a customer buys from you

infographic idology 3 waysto grow your business small jpg 468 523 pixels

Your business goals should serve one of these three phases of business.

If you’re still at the first stage, your goals might be brand awareness, lead generation, and customer acquisition.

If you already have a list of buyers, your goal might be to increase sales.

What if you already have a reliable stream of sales?

There’s no such thing as too many sales, but your goal at this point might be to maximize profits and retain customers.

Here’s what most businesses are prioritizing:

20 Lead Nurturing Statistics Charts for 2017

These may or may not apply to you. Just focus on what your business needs at the moment.

This way, you don’t make goals that aren’t yet attainable.

By extension, it ensures that you don’t waste time and resources on a marketing channel that won’t serve your business well.

How do you select a channel that’s right for your business goals?

Before you even start testing, do some elimination.

I’ll give you a few examples, and you’ll have to use your judgment.

Let’s say that your goal is brand awareness.

PR, social media, content marketing, and even paid advertising can be used for this purpose.

The easy solution?

Eliminate the channels that would be less efficient.

For instance, paid advertising won’t be the most useful for brand awareness.

But for sales or lead generation? It can crush it! (If you know what you’re doing, that is).

Take a look at some of the business goals that apply to the content marketing channel. It will give you an idea of what to aim for.

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It’s also important to take into consideration what feels the most organic for your business.

If you’re selling something like hoverboards or bicycles, would blog posts serve you the best?

Likely not.

These products are lifestyle-based. You’d be better off using a visual channel that will allow you to provide an experience to potential customers.

Immediately, social media comes to mind.

Then you begin to narrow it down to Instagram or Youtube.

This is a logical process that won’t take you more than an hour to figure out.

You don’t have to find that one channel yet. Just eliminate what won’t work and rank your remaining options.

Step #3: Narrow down the list by going where your audience is

You’ve got a few options.

It’s time to prioritize.

This one is easy. Find your potential customers.

A marketing channel can serve your goal, but there are many platforms you can focus on.

If your customers are not hanging out there, you’ll be wasting your time.

Note:

The point of this article is not to find you a slam dunk marketing channel right away.

That would take testing and experimentation.

The goal here is to help you validate your chosen channel. This way, you know it’s viable before you start testing it.

Here’s my best advice for finding out where the attention is.

  • SEO is a great place to start.
  • Competitive research is a must.
  • You can’t go wrong with social media.

Let’s look at each of these.

SEO

Online is where most of the magic happens.

And a majority of online interactions begin with a search engine (mostly Google).

So the first step is to evaluate the SEO landscape by searching for keywords in your industry.

You’ll find out what your audience is searching for and how often.

This is not just essential for finding out what’s happening online. Let’s say that there aren’t that many monthly searches for your keywords.

You may want to focus on an offline channel.

Or you may decide that this is a gap that you can take advantage of.

You won’t know until you do some basic keyword research.

A simple tool like the Google Keyword Planner will work.

Type in your keyword and get search volume data.

Keyword Planner Google AdWords

Competitive research

If you want to know where your customers hang out, find your competitors.

First, identify who those competitors are.

A simple google search will do the trick. The biggest players are those who rank on the first page of search.

Once you’ve got a solid list, use a tool like SimilarWeb for your research.

Enter your competitor’s website and press enter.

Quicksprout com Analytics Market Share Stats Traffic Ranking

You’ll find a range of data. Pay attention to “Traffic sources.”

Quicksprout com Analytics Market Share Stats Traffic Ranking 3

For Quick Sprout, the highest traffic source is search.

Naturally, my primary marketing channel would be SEO and blogging.

Direct is a close second, but it’s a bit trickier to figure out.

It represents the people who type in your URL directly into their search bar. It doesn’t tell you where these people first came into contact with your business.

The next step is to check out the individual breakdown of each traffic source.

You can see where referrals are coming from.

Quicksprout com Analytics Market Share Stats Traffic Ranking 4

Since SEO is my dominant traffic source, I’ll pay particular attention to my top organic keywords.

Quicksprout com Analytics Market Share Stats Traffic Ranking 2

You can also see which social media platform is the most popular. Mine is Facebook.

Quicksprout com Analytics Market Share Stats Traffic Ranking 1

Social media

I like to take social media research a bit further.

The tool to use is BuzzSumo.

Type in your competitor’s domain. You can also search for a keyword.

BuzzSumo Find the Most Shared Content and Key Influencers

You’ll see all the top performing content on the site and which social platform generated the most shares.

Using SimilarWeb, we saw that Facebook was Quick Sprout’s top platform.

BuzzSumo tells the same story.

quicksprout com Most Shared Content

If you want to take this a bit further, you can go to these individual platforms and do some sleuthing.

Check out the groups with the most members, listen in on the conversations, and a get a feel for where your audience is focusing their attention.

When you go through this process, you may find that you have 2 or 3 reliable options.

Which do you select?

I have three criteria.

Cheap. Fast. Easy.

You want to pick a channel that won’t cost you too much, if anything, to get started.

You also want a channel that doesn’t have a steep learning curve. Otherwise, you may spend too much time and money trying to figure it out.

Lastly, pick the channel that will allow you to make the most headway, quickly.

You must pick one, so use these criteria as the final litmus test.

Conclusion

Selecting a new marketing channel is a tall order.

It’s important that you take some time to validate a potential channel before you focus on it.

Marketing requires time that can easily be wasted on ineffective strategies.

It also requires cash.

It means that you’d want to see a solid return on both your time and money investment.

The surest way to secure an attractive ROI is to vet potential marketing channels first.

You can then test and double down on what’s working.

Most people don’t go through this process of validation and testing.

So as long as you keep experimenting and tweaking your strategy based on your results, you’ll have a significant advantage over competitors.

What is your most effective marketing channel?



from Quick Sprout http://ift.tt/2xIw1WB

Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Minimize Cart Abandonment in Your Checkout Process

Recently, I stumbled upon a scary statistic.

A whopping 69.23% of ecommerce shopping carts are abandoned.

To put this into perspective, for every 100 customers who start the checkout process, 69 don’t finish.

Is it a massive problem? Absolutely.

These numbers shouldn’t sit right with any business owner. That’s too many lost sales and potential lifelong customers.

But it’s also a bit surprising.

If someone starts the checkout process, it stands to reason they have a strong purchase intent.

So, why do so many shoppers fail to complete their purchases?

A few reasons.

Some of these are out of your control, and others, you can nip in the bud:

  • your site isn’t designed well, affecting the user experience;
  • the site has technical bugs;
  • site visitors are just window shopping;
  • your checkout process has too many pitfalls.

These are just a few ideas.

Can you guess which one is the most pervasive?

That’s right.

Your checkout process is turning potential customers away.

Take a look at this chart:

Exit intent Popup Shopping Cart Abandonment Solutions

Out of all the reasons why shoppers abandon their carts, a majority are related to the checkout phase.

Does this apply to all businesses? Not necessarily.

Don’t get me wrong.

All businesses—no matter how upscale—suffer from shopping cart abandonment.

You can’t do anything about a user who is just browsing. They may just want to save their favorite items in the cart for future reference.

With that said, there are varying reasons why shoppers do not complete a purchase.

In this article, you’ll find out if your checkout process is the main culprit and what you can do about it.

First, I’ll give you the common checkout pitfalls that turn potential customers away.

Then, we’ll get into a data-driven litmus test so you can know for sure.

This way, you won’t make changes to your site based on a hunch. That’s never good for business.

Sound good? Let’s start.

Five common pitfalls in the checkout process

If any of the following applies to your checkout process, it will certainly cause a percentage of shoppers to abandon their carts.

The great news?

It’s within your control.

Most times, a simple tweak is enough to make all the difference.

1. You haven’t earned the trust of potential customers

This is a big one.

If people don’t trust your site, there’s no way they’ll buy anything from you.

Your product could change their lives. It doesn’t matter.

The bottom line is, customers have to put in their personal information to complete the transaction.

If you don’t do everything in your power to make them feel secure doing so, you’ve lost them for good.

The solution

Step #1: Place testimonials and other proof elements on your checkout page.

Social proof is one of the most crucial elements to include on every page of your ecommerce site.

It’s especially powerful on the checkout page as it gives customers who may be hesitant an extra push.

Here’s a creative form of social proof from The Freedom Journal:

Choose Freedom

Step #2: Add credit card icons and other trust badges to reassure customers their payment information is secure.

List Builder s Lab

The placement of these badges is also important.

I recommend placing them right where customers have to put in their payment details and next to the “buy now” call to action.

Like this:

Content Marketing Mastery Secure Order Form

Step #3: Make sure you have contact information in clear sight. This way, customers know you’re not going to take their money and make a run for it.

Letting them know you can easily be reached is a small but impactful trust indicator.

Here’s an example from Amy Porterfield:

https dg101 infusionsoft com app orderForms List Builders Lab 1 Payment of 297 ga 2 211265245 974838801 1504269649 1558667423 1475774898

2. Additional costs blindside customers

Here’s the thing.

When the average person shops, they have a price point they’re willing to reach. As such, they choose items within these parameters.

After that has been surpassed, it’s a no-go.

When you surprise customers with high shipping costs, the immediate reaction is to make a dive for the exit.

And it’s with good reason.

I’ve seen instances where shipping, handling, and taxes amount to the price of the items in the cart.

That’s crazy.

It’s no wonder this is the number one reason people don’t complete their purchases.

cartabandon vwo 230616 jpg 630 368 pixels

The solution

Step #1: Let shoppers know their shipping costs early in the checkout process.

You can do this by introducing a shipping calculator to provide an estimate of the additional costs to be covered.

Here’s an example:

Cards and Pockets Your Shopping Cart

Step #2: Offer free shipping.

While this may not be feasible for everyone, it’s wise to find ways you can reduce costs for customers.

Many businesses offer free shipping once shoppers reach a certain price threshold.

Like this example from Fashion Nova:

Sneakers

As customers add new items to their carts, they’re reminded of how much more they need to spend to meet the threshold.

Classic High Waist Skinny Jeans Light Blue

Very clever.

Step #3: Have coupon codes on your site.

It’s important to have these discount offers on your site.

Why does that matter?

When customers go browsing elsewhere for coupons and don’t find them, they rarely come back.

You want to avoid that.

This beauty brand has a deal where they provide a daily coupon:

Home Chemical Peels Skin Care Acne Scars Wrinkles

This way, customers can easily save on shipping costs.

Today s Deal

3. The checkout process is too time-consuming

When they’re checking out, the only thing your customers value more than your product is their time.

That means that anything in your checkout process that takes too long is a problem.

Here are some examples:

  • technical glitches
  • slow site
  • poor design
  • lack of mobile friendliness
  • complicated navigation
  • long-winded checkout process

Website speed is a big deal for users: 40% of shoppers will abandon your site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Speed Is Key Optimize Your Mobile Experience

You can imagine that any issue which zaps customers of their time will have the same effect.

The solution

Step #1: Test the speed and mobile-friendliness of your website. Make immediate adjustment if it’s not up to par.

You can use Google’s mobile friendly test.

Mobile Friendly Test Google Search Console

Step #2: Have a simple checkout process with as few form fields as possible.

Ideally, customers want to sprint through this process. The easier you make it, the more likely they will go through with their purchases.

4. There’s not enough urgency to compel customers to act

Urgency as a sales strategy is about inspiring customers to take earnest and swift action.

It’s super simple to implement, and it has a massive impact.

Many businesses don’t flip this proven psychological switch when it matters most.

As we’ve seen before, a few of the reasons for shopping cart abandonment may be out of your control.

However, you can still have a measure of influence.

For instance, if you added a few urgency elements during checkout, it may entice window shoppers to make a purchase.

Think about the last time you bought something you didn’t intend to because the deal was too sweet to pass up.

It happens to the most disciplined of us.

The bottom line?

Without urgency elements, you’re missing out on a massive opportunity.

The solution

Step #1: Let customers know when an item is almost sold out. That increases the incentive to get it immediately.

Here’s an example:

Celestial Boot Black

Step #2: Use the language of immediacy.

Words like “instantly,” “today,” and “now” are all useful in that regard. I also recommend using active verbs and power words to encourage people to act right away.

Step #3: Satisfy your customers’ need for instant gratification.

Here’s what that means:

what is instant gratification Google Search

You want to give customers a sense that they’ll get what they want immediately.

This is an innate human need.

If you appeal to it, your customers will respond.

If you’re selling an information product, instant gratification is easy to provide. Your customers can have electronic access without delay.

But it’s trickier when you’re selling a product that has to be shipped.

My advice?

Take a page out of Amazon’s playbook.

They do this brilliantly.

Here’s what I mean:

Amazon com Checkout

If you know your items will be delivered to you in a couple of days, chances are you’ll be more likely to check out ASAP.

5. There’s not enough information on the checkout page

Nothing kills action like uncertainty.

If you don’t provide enough information on the checkout page, customers are likely to be unsure of the process.

They’ll start second-guessing their decisions and won’t complete their purchases.

The solution

Step #1: Include product details on the checkout page.

It’s a good practice to remind customers what they’re paying for and how much.

Here is an example from WebinarJam.

When you select a plan, they let you know what you’ve chosen. They also give you the next steps in the checkout process.

WebinarJam

Step #2: Ensure there’s continuity between what’s on a product page and what’s displayed on the checkout page.

Has this ever happened to you?

You read the product page thoroughly and place the item in your cart only to find different information on the checkout page.

Even if it’s something slight, I assure you, it deters many people from completing the transaction.

Step #3: Include support options on the checkout page.

Consider having a live chat, email support, phone support, and a link to a FAQ page.

You don’t need to have all of these, but one or two will go a long way in securing the trust of customers.

It will also help move the purchase along if customers have a legitimate problem that needs to be taken care of before they go through with a transaction.

I’ve highlighted the common reasons why your checkout page may cause shoppers to abandon their carts.

The truth is, you need to consider your circumstances.

Sure, the “best practices” are useful.

But without concrete analytics, you’ll be making changes blindly.

A data-driven approach to dealing with shopping cart abandonment

Want to find out the exact cause of your shopping cart abandonment?

Google Analytics is the tool to use.

It’s simple. I’ll give you a step-by-step play.

Step #1: Find the “Admin” tab so you can create a conversion goal:

Analytics 6

This is so you can track the actions your web visitors take.

Click on “Goals”:

Analytics 7

Step #2: Create a new goal and set it up to track a completed transaction.

Analytics 5

In the first step of the goal setup, select an appropriate template.

While you’re tracking cart abandonment, your ultimate goal is to get customers to make a completed online payment.

Select that option:

Analytics 9

It’s time to describe your goal.

Name your goal, and select “Destination” as the goal type.

The destination can be a thank-you page, which will help you track the number of completed purchases.

Analytics 3

Next, you want to set the URL of your Destination.

As I mentioned, this could be any page that customers are directed to after their purchases.

The only reason someone would be on this page is if they completed a transaction, right?

Analytics 4

Step #3: Map the path customers take leading up to complete a transaction.

This is what will help you determine where the pitfalls in your sales funnel are.

In the same “Goal details” section, switch the Funnel option to “ON.”

Analytics 8

List all the steps that customers take leading up to the purchase. Name each step, and add the corresponding URL.

Like this:

Analytics 2

If you have a one-page checkout, only include that page, of course.

Whatever steps customers take, include them all.

You may want to go through the process yourself to make sure.

Save your goal, and that’s it for the setup. Tracking will begin, and you’ll now have detailed data for each step of your funnel.

Step #4: Check your reports to analyze the data.

Here’s where to find them.

Under “Conversions,” click on “Goals.”

Top Conversion Paths Analytics

Pay special attention to “Funnel Visualization.”

Top Conversion Paths Analytics 1

You’ll see an illustration that looks something like this:

Goal Funnel Analytics

I just created this, so there’s no data. It will take some time for yours to show up as well.

This data will tell you where in your funnel customers are jumping ship. It will also tell you in how many sessions your goal was completed.

Useful, right?

You’ll have a complete view of the way customers move through your funnel. You can now make informed adjustments to decrease your shopping cart abandonment rate.

You should know this though: there’ll always be customers who drop out before completing a purchase.

That’s just the nature of the game.

You can optimize your process to reduce that percentage significantly.

But will the lost sales be lost forever?

Can they be salvaged?

They can, and I’ll tell you how.

The ultimate solution to recovering abandoned carts

I hate to bring up this depressing statistic again, but only 3 out of 10 shoppers complete their purchases.

There is, however, a simple follow-up step that can increase that number significantly.

Crazily enough, most businesses don’t take advantage of it.

I’m referring to cart abandonment emails.

This could be one email or a whole sequence. You decide.

The point of these emails is to recover lost sales. If a customer adds items to their cart and leaves without checking out, be sure to follow up via email.

Here’s a brilliant example from Vanity Planet:

70 off on orders over 60 nellianestclair gmail com Gmail 2

Many things are going right in this email. It:

  • offers a massive discount
  • includes a free shipping offer
  • uses personal and persuasive language
  • provides a simple solution for returning to cart
  • has a direct link to checkout

They made an irresistible offer.

Many people would go back to complete their purchases in a heartbeat.

When cart abandonment emails are done right, they’re hands down the most powerful solution to recapture lost sales.

I highly recommend you test this strategy and watch it make a difference.

Conclusion

Dealing with shopping cart abandonment can be daunting.

It’s also frustrating when more than half of your prospects aren’t converting into sales—and you don’t know why.

There is any number of reasons why it might happen.

And to be frank, some of them are inevitable.

But others? You can do something about.

For many businesses, the checkout process is the biggest culprit when it comes to lost sales. I’ve pinpointed some of the most common issues and their fixes in this article.

Use them as a litmus test.

But don’t stop there.

I can tell you that applying best practices only to your checkout pages won’t transform your sales funnel.

It’s crucial you take a more data-backed strategy to deal with abandoned carts.

Include Google Analytics in your arsenal, and set up conversion goals.

This way, you’ll have detailed analytics to make the sort of changes that will maximize your profits.

What do you think is the best strategy to ensure customers complete their purchases?



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