Friday, December 29, 2017

How to Take and Edit Photos Without Hiring a Professional

No matter what type of business you have, you need to be using high quality images as a promotional tool.

You can distribute these pictures across all your marketing channels.

Share them on social media profiles such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Add photos to your website to make it look more professional.

You can even send images to subscribers on your email marketing lists to make your messages more visually appealing.

Incorporate photos into your blog posts to break up the content and make it easier for people to read.

I like to use visuals in my blogs to illustrate what I’m talking about.

High quality images can add credibility to your website.

While there’s nothing wrong with using images you find online, nothing speaks to the customer like original photographs.

Taking your own photos means they are unique. Someone won’t be able to say,

“Oh, I’ve seen this picture somewhere else before.”

Ultimately, putting the perfect picture in the right place can help you generate more traffic and leads, which was identified as the top challenge for marketers in 2017.

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Here’s the problem, however. Professional photographers are not cheap.

Your company has enough expenses to worry about, so you shouldn’t be paying for a service you can do yourself.

The other problem I see is original images often look terrible.

That’s no good either. You don’t want any low quality images to be associated with your brand.

It looks unprofessional and will result in a negative perception by your current and prospective customers.

If you fall into one of the above categories, I can help.

I’ll show you the right tools to take and edit photos without spending much or needing to hire a pro.

Get the right equipment

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on camera equipment.

But you shouldn’t be taking pictures on one of those cheap disposable cameras either.

Find a middle ground.

A sufficient camera might just be in your pocket right now.

Currently, 77% of adults in the United States own a smartphone.

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As a business owner or marketing expert, you probably have a smartphone.

The cameras on the majority devices are fairly decent.

If you’re in the market for a new phone, it makes sense to get one with a great camera.

There are tons of online review websites, such as Tom’s Guide, that give you detailed information about various devices depending on what you’re looking for.

Here are some of the best devices in 2017 for different categories reviewed by their experts:

  • Best overall smartphone camera – iPhone X
  • Best features on a camera – Galaxy Note 8
  • Best camera for landscape photos – LG G6
  • Best camera for selfies and low-light images – Samsung Galaxy S8
  • Smartest phone camera – Pixel 2 XL
  • Best smartphone camera for videos – LG V30

These are good places to start looking.

But do some research on your own before making your purchase.

You may even own one of these devices already.

If you’d rather use a camera than a cell phone to take pictures, that’s fine too.

Here’s a comparison of some cameras ideal for beginner photographers:

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As you can see, the prices range from about $400 to $800, which is reasonable.

Professional photographers may be charging you more than that for a day’s work.

Brush up on some basic photography skills

Now that you’ve got a proper camera to take pictures with, you need to master some simple photography concepts.

Learn how to use the various tools and picture modes on your device.

For example, let’s say you’re using an iPhone to take pictures.

You’ll notice an option called “HDR Mode.”

HDR stands for high dynamic range. Here’s how you turn it on:

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When should you use it? For every picture?

The HDR mode works best for outdoor photographs and landscapes.

That’s because both of these usually have some bright as well as dark areas. Without the HDR mode, some details can get lost between the light and dark contrasts.

But it takes your camera longer to process HDR photos.

If you’re trying to take images in a rapid succession or photograph a moving object, you’ll want to keep the HDR mode off.

You also need to consider where you plan to take photos.

Conditions—whether inside, outdoors, in the sun, or in the dark—will dictate how you take them.

For example, it’s tough to capture an image if the sun is directly behind the subject.

Unless you have a professional camera, the picture will come out either super bright or too dark, depending on what you’re focusing on.

You also need to learn when it’s appropriate to use the flash on your camera.

The composition is important as well.

You need to understand how the subject should appear in your photo.

One of the most common photography concepts of composition is the rule of thirds:

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Imagine your camera frame is broken up into nine sections of equal sizes.

Some cameras have these horizontal and vertical guides to help with your composition.

You want to position your subject where those lines meet.

The example above has the subject positioned in the left third of the screen.

But let’s say you’re taking a picture of a landscape instead of a person or object.

In this case, you’ll want to align the horizon with the upper or lower third of the frame as opposed to the left or the right, like in this example:

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As you can see, this makes for a much more appealing picture.

Another basic photography tip is natural framing.

Let’s say you’re taking a picture of a building that has pillars or columns.

It makes more sense to position your subject between two pillars as opposed to in front of one.

Here’s an example of a bridge creating a natural frame:

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If you see the opportunity to capture a natural frame when you’re taking pictures, use it.

In the above example, pretend that the top of the image was cut off. It wouldn’t look as natural. But including the entire frame makes it appear more professional.

Something else you need to consider when you’re taking pictures is what you’re focusing on.

If you are photographing a person or specific subject, it’s imperative they are in focus.

Sometimes it’s a cool effect to have part of your photo in focus but the background blurry.

Photographs that have symmetry and patterns are visually appealing and professional-looking as well.

Check out this photo of the Taj Mahal:


All the elements are symmetrical, and the building is still positioned in the top third of the picture, so it follows all the rules.

There are tons of other photography rules you can follow to make sure you’re taking great pictures, but following these is a good to place to start.

You can do some more research about photography basics or even take a class. Both of these options are considerably less expensive than hiring a professional.

Plus, it’s always beneficial to learn a new skill applicable to your business.

Use Canva

Once you’ve taken the pictures, you’ll need to edit them to minimize any imperfections, making them look as professional as possible.

Canva is an image editing tool. It’s one of the best options you’ll find online.

You can edit pictures directly on their website or download a mobile version of their software for your iPhone or iPad.

I like to use Canva because it’s super diverse.

You’re able to access many different features all in one place.

Canva has multiple templates for your images, depending on where you want to distribute them.

For example, do you promote your company with paid advertisements on social media or other mediums such as Google AdWords?

Canva ensures your image is sized appropriately depending on the type of advertisement you’re running.

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If you attempt to do this on your own, the image could be distorted, blurry, or even illegible. So it’s best to use professional editing software for this.

One of the best parts of Canva is it’s free.

You may encounter a couple of features that cost a few bucks to access, but you can do all your basic edits without having to pay for anything.

For those of you who want access to everything on the Canva platform, I’d recommend upgrading to their Canva for Work package.

It’s only $12.95 per month, and you can save over 20% if you pay for the full year upfront.

You can try it free for 30 days to see if it’s worth it.

Again, this is way more cost effective than hiring a professional photographer to edit your pictures.

Try PicMonkey

PicMonkey is another one of my favorite editing tools.

It’s really easy to use, and uploading your photos is a breeze.

They also have a mobile app in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, so it’s perfect for both Apple and Android users.

If you’re taking pictures on your smartphone, it’s easy to edit them directly from your device without having to upload them to a computer.

PicMonkey has great photography tutorials.

They cover some of the basic concepts I discussed earlier and teach you how to use different functions of their software.

But overall, I think it’s pretty easy to use.

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These are the top features of PicMonkey:

  • editing tools
  • touch ups
  • collages
  • designs

It’s pretty much everything you could need to edit the photos you took on your own.

The collage tool is perfect for showcasing different products or features on your website.

You can create one simple image with a combination of the photos you took.

Here’s an example of a really cool collage on the Square website:

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You can create something similar for your business with PicMonkey.

Create infographics with Piktochart

Sometimes you don’t need to take a photograph to have an original image on your website.

Build an infographic.

It’s a great way to increase engagement on your website or blog.

In fact, people are 30 times more likely to read an infographic as opposed to plain text.

Infographics can also increase traffic to your website by 12%.

Visual content gets liked and shared on social media three times more than other types of content.

The Piktochart website has all the tools you need to create customized infographics.

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You can even use your own pictures as background images.

Find other ways to incorporate those original photos into your infographic so you’re not forced to use those cartoonish designs if that’s not your style.

They have a free membership for basic features.

You can also upgrade to a $15 per month or $29 per month plan with extra features.

But try the free version first to make sure you’re happy with it.


Unique photos can give your website, blog, emails, and social media pages the final touches that appeal to your customers.

You don’t need to hire a professional photographer to take and edit your photos.

That’s a waste of money.

You can do all of this on your own without spending much at all. It’s easy.

Just make sure you have the right equipment.

Get a smartphone that has a great camera. Or you can start off with an actual camera designed for amateur photographers.

Next, familiarize yourself with some basic concepts of photography.

Refer back to the points I outlined earlier as a guide for composition:

  • rule of thirds
  • natural frames
  • symmetry
  • focus

Once you’ve taken pictures, you can use editing tools on your computer, smartphone, or tablet to touch them up and make them look more professional.

Use tools such as Canva, PicMonkey, or Piktochart to get started.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be snapping and editing photos like a pro in no time.

What are some other tools you use to edit your photos like a professional?

from Quick Sprout

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Top 9 Marketing Trends to Look for in 2018

The most successful marketers have one thing in common.

They find a way to gain an edge over their competitors.

Marketers who can analyze the trends and prepare for the future have the best chances of setting their companies up for success.

You don’t want to be the last one to jump on the bandwagon.

As we head into 2018, I’ve taken the time to identify the top marketing trends for the year.

I want to share my insights with you so that you can apply these concepts to your business and start the new year on the right track.

Properly applying these trends to your marketing strategy will improve customer engagement.

You’ll also be able to acquire more customers this year.

Let’s dive right in. These are the top 9 marketing trends for 2018.

1. Live video streaming

Social media platforms paved the way for the live video trend.

Instead of using social media for posting pictures and videos, you now have the ability to stream live content.

Take a look at how marketing experts are expecting live video to rise over the next two years:

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If you weren’t using live video to interact with your customers in 2017, it needs to be a priority for you in 2018.

Studies suggest 80% of consumers prefer watching a live video from a brand as opposed to reading a blog.

And 67% of people are more likely to purchase a ticket to events like a concert after watching a live stream of a similar event.

Some of the most popular live video platforms include:

  • Facebook live
  • YouTube live
  • Instagram live
  • Twitter
  • Periscope

I like it when businesses use live videos because it gives them a chance to interact with their audience directly.

You’ll be able to communicate and get feedback from customers in real time.

Plus, it’s not like your live video is gone forever once you stop streaming.

You can save those videos and repurpose that content in the future.

2. Artificial intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence will continue to rise in 2018.

If you’ve been to any marketing conferences or events in the last year or so, you’ve probably seen at least one session on AI.

AI tools are used to analyze consumer behavior.

Once the behavior is analyzed, these robots can make decisions according to how they are programmed.

AI robots can start to take over some basic human roles, which will allow your team to spend more time on assignments that require actual human insight.

An example of AI you may be familiar with is a chatbot.

These computer programs can have conversations with your customers.

I’m sure you’ve been on a website where a “customer service representative” popped up to start an instant message conversation with you.

That’s an example of a chatbot.

With artificial intelligence on the rise, marketing executives feel unprepared for this trend.

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Now is the perfect time for you to educate yourself on the use of AI to improve different areas of your business.

It will give you an edge over your competitors who aren’t prepared.

3. Micro influencers

I’m sure you’re familiar with brand ambassadors and social influencers.

These are people on social media who have relationships with companies and get paid to promote products on their personal profiles.

It’s a legitimate marketing strategy.

When it comes to social influencing, to be considered a celebrity, one has to have over 1 million followers.

People with 500k–1 million followers and 100k–500k followers fall into the macro influencer and middle influencer categories, respectively.

Micro influencers have between 1k–100k followers on social media.

Brands are reaching out to these micro influencers because it’s easier for people to relate to them.

Let’s be honest.

Not many people can connect with celebrities. Plus, it’s obvious when they’re promoting something on their profiles.

You may even have doubts that those celebrities use the products they’re pitching.

But it’s much easier for the average person to relate to a micro influencer.


Well, for the most part, these people aren’t actually famous. They have normal jobs and live regular lives. But they happen to be popular on social media.

Take a look at how micro influencers are perceived by consumers:

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In this case, less is more.

Notice the difference in user engagement between influencers with 1k to 4k followers and influencers with over 100k followers.

Consider finding some micro influencers to represent your company on social media.

Another benefit of this strategy is the cost.

If you want to partner with a celebrity like BeyoncĂ©, it’ll cost you $1 million per post.

That’s absolutely outrageous.

But a micro influencer will likely cost you only $250 – $500 per post.

Plus, you can also send them some free stuff to keep them happy.

4. Content marketing

If you’ve had any marketing success over the past few years, I’m sure you’ve used content marketing strategies.

Well, 2018 isn’t the year to take your foot off the gas pedal just yet.

Content marketing is still trending upward.

Compared to other factors, content marketing will have the biggest impact on companies in 2018, according to business executives:

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Rather than coming up with new content marketing strategies, refine your existing ones.

Make sure your content is relevant and has a clearly defined audience.

Content marketing is great because it’s typically not expensive.

You’ll also see more sales and an increase in customer loyalty when you properly execute these strategies.

Don’t think you need to focus all your energy on new trends, like artificial intelligence in 2018.

Continue your content marketing efforts.

5. Generation Z

It seems over the past several years, companies have been focusing on Millennials.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s important to target consumers while they are young so you can try to retain them for as long as possible.

Every generation has different buying habits.

Millennials have helped shape the marketing trends over the last decade or so.

But now it’s time to put some more emphasis on younger generations as well.

Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration, Post-Millenials, or the Homeland Generation are people who were born in the late 1990s to mid-2000s.

The oldest people in this generation are entering their early 20s.

As they get ready to graduate from college, they’ll enter the workforce, which means their consumption habits will change.

A steady job means they will have more buying power.

Companies need to do more research on this generation and find out how to target them.

It doesn’t matter what industry your company is in.

Start to shift your focus toward Generation Z in 2018.

I’m not saying you should abandon your approach with Millennials or Generation X, but just recognize there is a fresh market for you to target.

Find out how they spend their free time. For example, look at how active Generation Z is in sports compared to the general population:

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Even if your company doesn’t make sporting equipment, you can still use this data for your marketing strategy.

You can focus your Generation Z marketing campaigns around physical activity or athleticism.

That’s just one example.

Do your research, and find out what Generation Z wants and how they consume information.

That’s the key to acquiring these consumers.

6. Consumer personalization

You need to give your customers a personalized shopping experience.

That’s one of the best ways to increase engagement and sales.

It’s what your customers want.

In fact, 75% of consumers prefer retailers that use personalization to improve their shopping experience.

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Encourage people to create a customer profile on your website or mobile application.

That way, you can monitor their habits and give them special offers based on their browsing pattern or previous purchases.

This is absolutely essential for companies who have an ecommerce website.

Personalization tactics make it easier for you to upsell and cross-sell to your customers.

Ultimately, this means you’ll make more money without spending much.

It’s cheaper to target your current customers than it is to acquire new ones.

You can also send personalized email messages to your subscribers.

Email personalization can improve your conversion rates by 10% and increase click-through rates by 14%.

If you personalize the subject line of an email, there is a 26% greater chance of the recipient opening it than if you don’t.

Numbers like this are too good to ignore.

Those of you who weren’t using personalization in 2017 need to start doing so in 2018.

7. Privacy protection is more important than ever

People are worried about their privacy.

Marketers need to start using privacy protection as a selling point.

Let your customers know how you are protecting their information.

Over 143 million Americans were affected by the Equifax breach in 2017.

That’s scary.

It’s especially scary since the company is a consumer credit reporting agency.

If your information isn’t safe with them, where is it safe?

This event has consumers on high alert moving into 2018.

They may be hesitant to do things like entering their credit card information online fearing they could become victims of credit card fraud.

How can you make consumers feel safe?

There are certain things you can do to add credibility to your website.

  • display all your security badges
  • provide up to date contact information
  • add customer reviews and testimonials
  • make it easy to navigate
  • have fast-loading pages
  • make sure your checkout process is secure

All of this will make customers feel safe when they’re shopping.

If your company appears sketchy or untrustworthy online, it’ll be difficult for you to get lots of sales.

8. LinkedIn will continue to lead the way for B2B marketers

While B2C companies will have better luck using social media platforms and email marketing tactics to connect with their clients, B2B marketers have to focus on their LinkedIn presence.

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Look at these numbers.

Over 90% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is the most effective platform for lead generation.

If you’re in the market for new customers, LinkedIn should be the first place to look in 2018.

Connecting with a potential client on LinkedIn increases the chances of them buying from you by 50%.

I expect these trends to continue in 2018.

Beef up your LinkedIn presence if your company operates on a B2B revenue model.

9. Interactivity

In 2018, your company needs to focus on interactivity, especially when it comes to email marketing.

Contrary to popular belief, email marketing is far from dead.

But you can’t just keep sending out the same boring emails over and over again and expect to get different results.

Interactive emails improve engagement with your subscribers.

In 2017, interactivity was a top email marketing trend.

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But that wasn’t a fad.

This trend will continue through 2018 as well.

Here are some of the best ways to incorporate interactivity into your email marketing campaigns:

  • use real-time marketing
  • add surveys, polls, and reviews
  • include videos
  • add menus for easy navigation
  • use GIFs instead of pictures
  • add live shopping carts

If you saw success with interactivity tactics in 2017, continue to use them in the new year.

And if you haven’t tried them yet, it’s not too late to jump on board in 2018.


Staying up to date with the latest marketing trends is a recipe for success.

The best marketers look toward the future to predict consumer behavior.

If you can identify trends and make applicable changes to your marketing strategy, it will give you an edge over your competition.

After extensive research, I came to the conclusion the above trends will have a major impact on the success of your brand in 2018.

If you’re struggling to come up with new ideas, start with the topics I’ve outlined in this post.

What marketing trends has your business identified, analyzed, and implemented for 2018?

from Quick Sprout

Friday, December 22, 2017

How to Increase Sales by Mastering the Art of Storytelling

Nothing keeps someone on the edge of their seat like a good story.

That’s why people love to watch movies, read books, and binge-watch television shows.

I know we all have that one friend or family member who tells the best stories around the dinner table.

But what if there was a way to turn those stories into dollars?

There is.

You’ll be able to boost your sales if you can get customers to connect with your stories.

Some of you may be thinking, “I’m a terrible storyteller, so this won’t work for me.”

And some of you might say, “My life is boring. I don’t have any good stories to tell.”

Yes, storytelling is an art.

Not everyone is born with the ability to tell an engaging story.

But luckily for you, I’m very familiar with storytelling.

In fact, I use this strategy all the time as a marketing technique.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may remember this article I wrote a couple of years ago where I shared my personal experience:

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That blog post has nearly 70 comments on it.

People buy food, but nobody seems to think you can make money off it.

Plus, with numbers so high, readers are bound to be interested.

I’ll share with you some of my storytelling secrets that you can implement in your marketing campaigns to squeeze revenue from your customers.

Here’s how you can master the art of storytelling.

Identify the target audience of your story

First, recognize to whom you’re telling the story.

Make sure it’s appropriate for that audience.

Let’s use an analogy before we relate it to your business.

A story you might tell to your poker buddies during a card night while having a beer may not be something you’d tell your in-laws during a Thanksgiving dinner.

You know what I mean?

For the most part, I’d recommend keeping your stories suitable to all ages.

I practice what I preach. If you read my blogs, you typically won’t see any vulgarity or cuss words.

But depending on your brand and how you market yourself, it may be part of your image.

Something else to consider is where you plan to distribute your story.

If you’re posting it on social media, your audience may vary depending on the platform.

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Let’s say you identify your target audience as baby boomers.

Based on the graph above, it wouldn’t be smart to tell that story on Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter because there isn’t an active presence of your audience.

But if you were trying to connect with millennials, Instagram or Snapchat would be good channels to promote your story.

Once you figure out the target, you’ll be able to use an appropriate tone to tell the story and release it on the right platforms as well.

What goal are you trying to achieve?

You might be able to tell the best story in the world, but that means nothing if you don’t have a goal for it.

The story has to be actionable.

That’s the only way you’re going to get customers to convert and increase your sales.

You need to have some kind of message the customer walks away with.

Let’s take a look at an example from the Farmers Insurance website:

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How do insurance companies make money?

They have to sell policies.

In a perfect world for them, they sell a policy, and the customer never makes a claim.

This story on their website talks about the disaster from hurricane Harvey in Houston, Texas.

The underlying message to a prospective customer could be that they should purchase flood insurance.

Someone may read this story and think something similar could happen to their home if they live in an area below sea level that’s susceptible to a natural disaster.

It can entice them to purchase or upgrade their policy.

Try to get an emotional response from the customer

Emotions are a powerful way to drive sales.

Refer back to our last example with Farmers Insurance.

The emotion elicited by that story would be fear.

Consumers may be afraid of a disaster happening to them, and that will prompt them to make a purchase.

Another example could be telling a story about a robbery to get customers to buy a home security system.

While fear is definitely a powerful emotion, it’s not the only way to get a response from your audience.

Dopamine gets released from the brain when someone has an emotional connection with a story.

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Think about some other strong emotions you can trigger.

According to Dr. Robert Plutchik, a psychologist and professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, there are eight main emotions:

  1. Fear
  2. Anger
  3. Sadness
  4. Joy
  5. Disgust
  6. Surprise
  7. Trust
  8. Anticipation

While those are a good place to start, you can try to elicit other emotions as well, such as love, pity, or envy, to connect with your audience.

It all depends on your marketing campaign and how you want your brand to be perceived.

Here’s an example from TOMS shoes:

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On their website, they include a biography about their company’s founder, Blake Mycoskie.

They tell Blake’s story.

As you can see from the underlined sentences, Blake was inspired to create TOMS after witnessing firsthand young children growing up without shoes.

Blake came up with a way to help.

For every pair of shoes bought from his company, they would donate a pair to a child in need.

It’s a simple plan to help those less fortunate and a great business model for a for-profit organization.

This story can generate all kinds of emotions within a reader.

At first, they may feel sadness for those children without shoes.

But they can also feel joy because something is being done to help these kids.

Remember, we’re trying to tell actionable stories.

What kind of response can this story get?

This emotional roller coaster can inspire customers to make a purchase, knowing it will help the cause.

Tell stories your readers can relate to

People connect better with stories and ideas that speak directly to them.

If your story is super unique and isn’t relatable to a wide audience, you’ll need to find a way to tweak it.

Otherwise, you should probably leave it out of your marketing campaign altogether.

Tony Robbins, an entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, and business strategist, tells stories of triumph that his readers can relate to.

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His books and self-help seminars are designed to help people take control of their lives and gain financial freedom.

He tells his personal story and explains that at one point he had only $20 to his name.

That’s something people can relate to.

Most people can understand financial struggles because they impact them every day.

Tony says he was in that position too at one point in his life, but there’s a way out.

To find out how you can do it too, he wants you to buy his books.

That’s the actionable response he’s trying to get from you by telling you a story you can relate to.

This is much more effective than telling a story about his current life, when he is worth millions of dollars.

People can’t relate to that lifestyle, but they can connect with financial struggles.

Start a blog as the platform to share your stories

Now that you know what it takes to write a story, you need to find a place to share them.

Your website needs a blog.

The benefits of blogging are seemingly endless.

It’s a great way to get more traffic to your website.

You’ll also get more engagement with your customers through blogging.

When customers read your stories, they will feel a personal connection with you.

This connection can entice them to make a purchase because they know whom they are supporting.

It’s not like they’re giving money to some faceless and nameless brand.

I could talk all day about why your business needs to have a blog, but we’ll save that conversation for another time.

Right now, it’s just the most logical place for you to share your content that’s a story.

Here are some things to keep in mind for the stories on your blog:

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While your blog posts can be long, the stories within them should be somewhat short.

Your customers don’t have enough hours in the day to devote 40 minutes to your story.

If you do this, your story won’t get read, which is counterproductive and a waste of your time.

Don’t ramble.

Stick to the script, and keep it actionable.

You should also use images within your story to make the content more engaging.

Make sure you have a headline that grabs the reader’s attention.

You could have an amazing story, but it’s not worth anything if you can’t get people to click on it.

Promote your blog posts on other marketing channels, like your social media pages, as well. You can also send them to the subscribers on your email list.

Record videos as another way to get your stories out there

Not everyone wants to read.

In fact, more than four times as many customers prefer watching a video about products as do reading about about them.

That’s why I use my YouTube channel to tell stories to my audience.

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If you don’t have a YouTube channel, you need to make one right away.

Start adding video content, and share it with your customers.

You can even double dip your content here.

Use a story from your blog, and talk about it in a video.

This way you won’t have to come up with fresh topics all the time.

Allow your customers to share their own stories with each other

While your story may be great, customers may not find it to be a reliable source.

People aren’t stupid (for the most part).

You’re running a business.

They realize that anything you tell them will have some sort of bias toward your brand: you won’t publish any stories that discourage people from buying your products.

That’s why you need to let customers share their stories on your website.

This can be done in the form of:

  • reviews
  • testimonials
  • discussion boards

Take a look at how Lululemon shares stories of other people on their website:

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Feel free to take a similar approach and designate a page on your website that’s strictly for user-generated content.


Not everyone is born a storyteller.

But if you follow the tips I’ve outlined above, you can master this art and begin to see the positive impact it has on your sales.

When telling a story, keep your audience in mind.

Make sure it’s appropriate and relatable to the customer.

Your stories should be actionable, so make sure you have a goal in mind with each story.

Otherwise, it may just turn out to be rambling content, which is ineffective.

The best stories can trigger an emotional response from the audience.

Eliciting the right emotions can prompt consumers to make a purchase.

Re-use your stories in videos, and distribute your content on various marketing channels.

You should also dedicate a specific section of your website to customer stories.

What types of actions do you want customers to take after hearing your stories?

from Quick Sprout

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How to Boost Conversions by Tastefully Implementing Scarcity Tactics

Increasing conversion rates is essential for every business.

Even if your current numbers are satisfactory, there’s always room for improvement.

The problem I see is that too many companies are using the same old and boring strategies.

Those methods get stale fast, and they don’t entice your customers to change their behaviors.

Implementing scarcity tactics is a viable way to boost conversions, increasing sales.

The best part is you can do this without acquiring new customers.

It’s a great method for ecommerce sites to grow sales and for anyone with a website to get their visitors to take a certain action.

If you’ve never used scarcity as a marketing tactic, you need to tread carefully.

You don’t actually want to scare your customers.

This will backfire.

But the right approach can get them to act fast.

I’ll show you how to tastefully implement scarcity into your marketing campaign.

Here’s what you need to know.

Create a sense of urgency

Take a minute to put yourself in the shoes of a customer.

They have many options to choose from when they’re shopping online.

Think about all your competitors, both local and international.

It’s easy for someone visiting your website to think they can find a better deal somewhere else.

Sure, the product or service may not be exactly the same, but it’d be close enough.

In some instances, the product may be identical.

Unless it’s something they need right away, they can always find an excuse to put off the purchase.

This is partially why shopping cart abandonment rates are so high.

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This holds true on a global scale across all platforms.

Shoppers can just wait to find what they’re looking for when it goes on sale or buy it from another retailer.

That’s why you need to create a sense of urgency.

Urgency will force them to act quickly.

It will give them the impression this is the best deal available and they won’t have the same opportunity to make this purchase again.

A few ways to do this include setting a deadline, show a limited quantity remaining, or improve your value proposition for a limited time.

I’ll give you some tips on these methods in greater detail as we move forward.

We’ll even take a look at some great examples of how other companies do this so you can see how it works for yourself.

Use the fear of missing out (FOMO) to influence an impulse decision

You need to realize some people are just browsing.

They may be on your website, even adding items to their shopping carts, without any intention of actually making a purchase.

Take a look at some of the top reasons for cart abandonment:

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Two of the most common reasons involve customers who had no intention of making a purchase at the time of browsing.

FOMO can change this.

By now, the consumer has at least identified they’re interested in what you’re offering.

But what if they won’t have another chance to get it?

It’s human nature to want what we can’t have.

I found an interesting study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology that illustrates this.

A group of women was shown a photograph of a man.

Half of the test sample was told the man was in a relationship, while the other half was told he was single.

The results were astonishingly different.

When women thought the man was single, 59% of them expressed interest in the man.

But among those who thought the man was in a relationship, a whopping 90% expressed interest in him.

It’s the fear of missing out on something that drives desire.

Here’s a more relatable example for our purposes.

Let’s say you’re shopping for headphones.

Amazon implements this strategy as good as anyone:

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You found what you’re looking for on their website, and it’s offered at a reasonable price.

But you realize there are only 2 items left in stock.

Now what?

The fear of missing out on something can cause the consumer to make an impulse decision even if they weren’t planning on it when they started browsing.

You can use this on your website too, especially if you have an ecommerce platform.

I know what you’re thinking.

You have plenty of items in stock, so this strategy won’t work for you.

Think again.

Look, I’m not saying you should flat out lie to your customers.

But you can still use this scarcity tactic.

Do you think if those 2 pairs of headphones from Amazon are sold, there won’t be any available for purchase anymore?

I doubt it.

But the illusion of scarcity is enough to impact the buyer’s decision.

Don’t do this for every item on your site, or else it won’t have the same impact.

You can also use FOMO to elicit an impulse decision from a customer using price.

Airlines use this strategy all the time.

Take a look at this example I saw on JetBlue when I was browsing flights from Seattle to New York City:

image3 6I knew I wanted to travel on this day and leave Seattle around noon.

Although I was just browsing, I realized I had to buy the ticket now if I wanted to get the best price.

I know from experience that you don’t want to call an airline’s bluff when it comes to scarcity.

The price will actually go up after those limited quantities of tickets get sold.

If your company runs on a similar type of supply and demand, you can easily change the prices accordingly and let the site visitors know this by counting down the limited quantity.

That’s how you can turn a browser into a shopper and boost conversions.

Set a deadline when sending email promotions

We just saw how scarcity works with quantity, but it works with time as well.

Deadlines are a great way to get customers to act fast.

That’s because deadlines encompass some of the concepts we just discussed.

They create urgency and the fear of missing out.

But in this case, instead of missing out on the product itself, customers would miss out on a particular discount.

Think about this next time you’re sending a promotional email.

Say you want to offer 25% off everything on your site.

You’re sending out the campaign on December 1st.

I like your thought process so far.

Discounts in December are a great way to build hype for the holiday season.

But you set the promotion to expire on December 31st.

That’s where you lose me.


There’s no urgency.

If the customer has the whole month to take advantage of your sale, they have no incentive to act fast.

Create tighter deadlines to create scarcity.

Here’s a great example from the Macy’s website:

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It’s a one day sale.

Customers can get $10 for every $50 spent online through the end of one day and in stores through the end of two days.

That’s it. After that, the promotion is over.

It’s much more effective than running this promotion all month.

Take this strategy, and apply it in your next email.

I’m a big fan of using flash sales because they create urgency.

Let’s look at an offer Gap sent to their email subscribers:

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They take urgency and scarcity to a whole new level.

Rather than having a discount that expires after a day or two, they offer a deal that’s valid for only 3 hours.

Customers can get 30% off if they shop online between noon and 3 PM.

After that, the deal’s over.

I love this method with email because your subscribers are already familiar with your brand, products, and services.

It’s likely they’ve already made a purchase on your site.

If not, they were interested enough to provide you with their contact information, so a flash sale could end up being the factor that gets them to finally convert.

The key is knowing when to run these and how often to do it.

If you run a flash sale every day, it won’t be very effective.

Your subscribers aren’t dumb, and they will catch on fast.

They’ll know that if they wait, another flash sale will be available in a day or two.

It just gives them an excuse to keep putting their shopping off, which is the complete opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Another factor to take into consideration is the timing of the flash sale email.

If you’re anything like me, sometimes you work odd hours.

Just because you’re awake and creating a flash sale email at 2 AM doesn’t mean it’s the best time to send it to your subscribers.

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Studies show the best time to send an email is in the afternoon.

Open rates tend to peak at around 3 PM.

Schedule your flash sale email delivery accordingly.

Upsell your customers with an improved value proposition

Once you’ve got the user to convert, you can upsell them before they finish checking out.

Earlier we looked at how Amazon created scarcity with a “limited quantity remaining” indicator on certain items.

As you navigate through their checkout process, you’ll see different shipping options.

Standard shipping for ecommerce products is usually 5 to 7 business days.

But Amazon gives their preferred customers 2-day free shipping with an Amazon Prime membership.

The annual cost is $100, and it comes with all sorts of other benefits.

But there are certain days of the year when Amazon offers discounted memberships:

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If you offer memberships to your best customers, you can use the same strategy.

Take a few days out of the year, and offer new prospective members a price cut for their first year of payment.

Offers such as “buy two and get the third one free” or “free shipping on orders over $50” are common forms of improved value propositions for upselling.

If you combine those offers with words like “today only,” you’ll add scarcity as well.

This will get your customers to spend more money than they originally planned.

Use push notifications to entice mobile users

If your company has a mobile app, you want to take full advantage of it.

You have the ability to send notifications directly to the user.

It’s a great chance to implement the scarcity tactic.

Take a look at how Charlotte Russe accomplishes this:

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This is similar to the email strategy we looked at earlier, but it has even greater benefits.

With email, you’ll need to worry about open rates.

But everyone who has your mobile app will see your message if they have push notifications turned on.

You can get this deal exposed to a larger audience.

You can also increase the chances of these customers spending more money on each conversion.

Look at how mobile ecommerce is trending:

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This upward trend is great news for all of you who have mobile apps.

Apply these strategies, and focus them on your mobile customers as well.

It’s a recipe for success.


You need to come up with some new methods of increasing conversions if you want to improve sales.

Creating scarcity is one of my favorite ways to do this.

Just make sure it’s done tastefully.

Recognize not all users visiting your website came there with the intention of making a purchase.

Some are just browsing or conducting research.

But strategically causing them to experience FOMO can drive a sale.

Show a countdown of remaining quantities under certain items.

You can do this with prices too, similarly to how airlines create urgency on their websites.

Set a tight deadline when you’re emailing promotional discounts to subscribers.

Flash sales are more effective than longer deadlines because they give people a reason to act fast.

Use scarcity to improve your upselling tactics as well.

Don’t neglect mobile users.

If you have a mobile application, send push notifications to the app users to create urgency.

Following these steps will help you boost conversions fast.

What type of discount will you email your subscribers during your next flash sale?

from Quick Sprout