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From Blog to Business: Growth Hack Marketing

What is Growth Hack Marketing?

Growth Hack Marketing refers to the use of digital tactics to drive leads and revenue to a business. This is done by implementing a series of online strategies to achieve a specific and measurable goal. In other words, a “growth hacker” is actually just a digital marketer who gets results.

So…if that's the case, then what is the difference between Growth Hack Marketing vs Online Marketing vs Digital Marketing?

Nothing. The difference is in the results…and this is what makes a blog a business.

Growth hacking isn’t something specific, rather it’s a methodology or process by which a business achieves it’s online marketing goals. If you're a blogger and you want to make money from your blog, there really isn’t a difference between other forms of online marketing and applying a “growth hacking” strategy, other than the fact that most often, businesses (especially small businesses) implement digital marketing tactics that don’t get results. Then they wonder why they paid for an Ad that didn’t drive any sales. The reason they are not getting results, is because they either don’t know the correct process to follow, or they choose not to act upon the information that the data is telling them.

There are many examples of digital marketing gone wrong. So, how can you get it right?

First, a little perspective here…I’m not just any blogger blogging about how to blog!

I spent the first decade of my career in corporate marketing and practically grew up through the digital transformation of the early 2000s. The year was now 2006, and I found myself at a significant crossroads. I was pregnant with my first baby, and my mother was quite ill. I needed some flexibility, yet working remotely was still not considered acceptable by many corporations, so at the time, I started my own business, Vogue Media, and I spent the next few years doing freelance work…coding websites from scratch.

When social media first entered our lives (right around that same time) I was fortunate to be able to connect the dots between what I did for the first decade of my career with the need many of my clients had…which was the “new” way to market online. At first, large corporations hesitated, because they didn’t know if social media would be a passing trend or if it was here to stay. Over the next few years the world watched those who were willing to take risks enjoy massive success with online advertising, soaring far past their competitors.

I’m a creative designer at heart, so over the next 10 years of my career, I perfected the art of merging beautiful advertising campaigns with good UI/UX design and ultimately revenue by designing websites and sales pages in a way that leads customers through the digital sales funnel and toward the ultimate goal of purchase…all the way from the digital advertisement to the post-sale nurturing. This includes social media marketing and email nurturing. As an independent contractor, I did this kind of work for corporations large and small, grew email lists from zero to 70,000, generated 6-figures per month, and even managed online communities along with it.

So if you want to call that growth hacking, then call it growth hacking. I think the reality is, these days what differentiates a “growth hacker” from a regular digital marketer, is that the “growth hacker” is empowered to make quick decisions based on the metrics of the campaign. Now that we live in a world with real-time metrics, decisions can be made fairly quickly. Often, I make decisions about a campaign within the first 24 hours. So growth hacking is really just digital marking that is done right. When it’s done right, you get results. Massive results!

How do you get these massive results from Digital Marketing?

The formula for success is widely known, but what most marketers miss is the ability to follow the process exactly. You can't skip any part of the process. You also need to think critically about each step of the process, which is something that isn't easy to do…especially when you are filling the role of marketer for your own small business. Marketing, especially digital marketing, is not just about advertising the product or service for sale.

In order to be successful, you need to clearly understands how to journey map, and then communicate in a voice that speaks specifically to the different stages of the sales funnel.

Um, say what? Here's a video I made recently to explain the journey mapping concept a little better:

What is Journey Mapping?

Making sure that you speak to a prospect in the correct “stage” of the their journey from the time they first became aware of a new product or service all the way to the time they actually pull out their wallet and make a purchase. A lot of people talk about how the sales funnel is no longer relevant because people can enter the funnel at different stages. While this is partially correct, if you follow the proper methodology, you, as the digital business owner, can control much of the process.

For a small business, blogger, or solo-entrepreneur, you can be ultra successful with digital marketing when you follow this methodology precisely. Your next move consists of making sure all of the pieces of the digital marketing puzzle are in place. Need some help? Sign up for my FREE 5-Day Email Master Class. I’ll send you a series of exclusive emails that are specifically designed to move you forward in your digital marketing journey.

For a corporation or in a startup situation, your next step is hiring a digital marketer that knows the ropes and has a proven track record. You see, digital marketing works differently for a corporation because they have a separate sales team and a separate marketing team. For this set up, when the sales team and the marketing team are truly aligned, sales understands that it’s not the job of the marketer to sell the product, it’s the job of the marketer to educate in a way that prepares the customer for the sale.

Marketing is about creating a hypothesis around a tactic and a goal, testing, measuring, and then analyzing the results. What separates a growth hacker from a regular digital marketer, in my opinion, is their knowledge of business operations from a broad scope. The growth hacker has experience…and the ability to make decisions about how a particular tactic affects the business overall, (i.e.: they know within 24 hours whether a specific strategy is working or not working) and since the term is used mostly in start-up companies and small business, the growth hack marketer is typically empowered to change their tactic based on the results they get instead of losing time implementing systems and waiting for 20 different approvals. Not only that, they know how to change the tactic quickly and efficiently to grow the business.

So what exactly is the methodology? In simple terms, it is:

  1. Design the offer
  2. Send traffic
  3. Generate leads
  4. Nurture the leads
  5. Make the offer
  6. Overdeliver
  7. Create raving fans and repeat customers

While not necessarily as easy as it sounds, here are two pre-requisites that you absolutely need before you can even begin to implement the methodology mentioned above:

1. Optimize your content
Content marketing will never work for the long term unless your website is optimized first. Keyword research, meta-data, internal links, external links, and referral traffic all help put your website on the map. Read more about search engine optimization and SEO best practices here.

2. Social sharing
Sharing on your social channels brings consistent traffic that complements the organic traffic. This works best when you have click-worthy headlines and eye-catching creative. If your post looks like clip-art people will scroll right by. So instead of delegating social media management to your intern, splurge and hire someone who actually knows that they are doing.

What resonates is emotion, story, and practicality, so your social media manager needs to understand how to pull those traits out of your brand and into your lead magnet. Your social media manager is a marketer, and you’ll find that the standouts typically have a background in communication, graphic design, copywriting, and even website design.

Creating lead-magnets is no joke, and once you have one created, the exact methodology must be followed to drive traffic to the lead magnet first…remember, this is still the “design the offer” phase, so you’ve got to start at the very beginning if you want to nail it.

Want to learn more? Sign up for my FREE Email Masterclass and I'll help move you closer to creating your first digital product or online course. Read more about it by clicking here.

Blog to Business Growth Hacking
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Video Strategy for Bloggers + Small Business Owners

Are you a small business owner who is thinking about incorporating a video strategy into your online marketing?

If you’ve been considering creating a video strategy to promote your blog or business, there is no better time than now to start planning. Lets be real though…it’s not the easiest medium to master. This article will give you some golden nuggets so you can get started in the quickest and most efficient way.

Before I began my current video strategy on YouTube, I made a few gut wrenching mistakes. I started out by dedicating an entire month to producing and posting 1 video per day (for 30 days!) It was a lot of work. No, really, a LOT of work, and I gave up some time with my children, ate more than a few pizza dinners, and I certainly learned a lot.

My intention was to skyrocket the growth of my channel as quickly as possible. That did not happen, obviously. I made a ton of mistakes and ended up wasting a lot of precious time.

I would not recommend challenging yourself to doing “30 videos in 30 days” until you’ve mastered the strategy…especially if you’re just starting your video marketing. Instead, follow the methodology in this article, and you’ll be much further along in 30 days than I was!

Preliminary Work: Get Clear About the Focus of Your Video Strategy

I know what you’re thinking…I’ve already got a focus. I thought the same. I had already brainstormed more than 30 topics, but it takes a lot more effort than that to nail it. Before you get started, I recommend taking some time to answer the following questions:

  1. What sets your blog or business apart from others? Write down a few things that make you different. You’ll need this in the introductory section of your video, but zero in and be able to articulate what you do in just 5-10 seconds.
  2. Who do you serve? This question is vital to understand who your audience and your target market is. Here are a few tidbits to get you started thinking clearly: How old is your ideal customer? What do they do for a living? What are their hobbies? What brought them to your blog? How can you help them? The truth is, producing engaging content for your blog or video strategy is not about figuring out who is reading it or watching it…it’s more about deciding who you want to be your target, and then producing content for them.
  3. Who are your competitors? Before you launch your blog into a business, and your business into a video strategy, it’s imperative that you know exactly who you are competing with. Give me a name and URL, not just a broad “I’m competing with people who blog about making money online.” This is not going to be about looking at what others are doing in comparison to you, it’s about looking at what they are doing that is working well and how you can capitalize on that knowledge.

Once you get through the initial stages, planning a collaboration with your competitors is ideal, but not at the very beginning. When you focus on relationships and building each other up instead of competing, you both win! There is more than enough space online for everyone, so don’t feel that your nîche is too saturated. There will always be room for your own personal expertise, and your personality with inevitably resonate with someone better than a competitors.

After you’ve done some soul searching with these questions above and conducted some hard core research and competitive analysis, you’re ready to get started with the actual video production strategy. Keep in mind, though, you will not reach your goals if you spend too much time checking in on what everyone else is doing and trying to replicate it. Instead, do your research, decide what works for you, and then create
your own plan.

The Methodology: A Video Strategy that Works

There are 4 parts to this video strategy. Although they may seem somewhat obvious at first glance, don’t get all rockstar on me…pay close attention, because there are some critically important factors that you’ll need to understand completely that accompany each part:

1. Research the Video Topic Thoroughly
2. Scripting, Recording, Editing
3. Publishing and Optimization
4. Engagement & Sharing

Research

Lets dive into research first. Yes, you’ve got to do some competitive analysis (i.e.: take note of what is working for your competitors) to see what others in your nîche are talking about, but you’ve also got to understand how to do proper keyword research so that you’re choosing the topics and keywords that will actually benefit your ranking ability based on the size of your blog (or the size of your YouTube channel).

By the way, I would love it if you'd Subscribe to my YouTube Channel…I post a new video each week, and if you love learning about tips for bloggers and small business owners, you'll enjoy my channel!

One of my biggest pet-peeves I have is the nîche blogger who decides to tackle an unrelated topic when they don’t really understand it. This is what promotes the stereotype whereby most digital agencies and corporate online marketers don’t take bloggers seriously. (I can attest to this first hand, as I spent 14 years of my career working in corporate and agency marketing before starting my own blog in 2006).

I admit, I used to be guilty of stereotyping bloggers…there was a time when I thought bloggers didn’t know what the heck they were talking about. Not ironically, it was because most of those writers (and some vlogers too) went off track for the low-hanging fruit. What do I mean by that?

When you have a nîche blog about a topic that you have an expertise in, such as a finance blogger, and then you suddenly gain some perspective on SEO so you decide that you’re qualified to write a blog post about it, that is going off track. So when that happens, here’s what the rest of us are left with…instead of actually getting some good advice by reading the blog post with a catchy headline about SEO, you get one or two regurgitated tips that are not helpful because my goodness you’ve already updated your alt-tags and meta-data descriptions with keywords and you’re still not ranking in the search results.

…So you and me…we spend hours reading blog posts that offer nothing new on the topic we're researching. We fall victim to clicking on those catchy headlines, yet we're lucky if we come across a blogger who actually knows what Schema means.

Just like Mr. Finance Blogger spent 15 years working in finance before starting his blog, keep in mind that a truly qualified digital marketer likely spent 15 years performing and implementing SEO research on hundreds of websites, and might even remember what life was like before Penguin. Ok this rant is over.

If you are curious about what the pros say, read this to learn about SEO and the proper way to update your markup.

The moral of this story is stay in your nîche. When you really focus and stay on point, with your writing and your video, you will grow your audience and thus your revenue much faster. When you chase low-hanging fruit and deviate from your expertise, thinking that it’s working for others so you might as well give it a try, then you’re just fooling yourself. Stay in your lane, capisci?

Here’s a quick example of how to do keyword research (the right way!)

Lets say you are writing a blog (or producing a video) about how to do affiliate marketing. Let's assume your email list has less than 1,000 subscribers and your following on social media is around 100 to 500 per channel. You already know that using a free Chrome browser extension, keywordseverywhere.com will allow you to look up the keyword phrase “make money online” which returns a result of 201,000 results per month (as of the date this blog is being published). Do you think that seems like a good keyword phrase to use in your meta-data?

Search Results

I mean heck, TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND people are searching for that phrase every single month, it must be good, right?

The answer is a resounding “NO!” You will never rank for that keyword with the stats above. No matter how many times you type the words “make money online” into your meta-data, your foundation does not support enough of the other ranking factors to get you on the first page of Google. In fact the first organic search result is for Entrepreneur magazine. Is that magazine one of your competitors that you identified above? Not likely. In order to get the strategy right, you’ll first need to clearly understand how to conduct keyword research the right way.

PRO TIP: How to get Keyword Research Right

To rank a small blog or small channel, you need to focus on long tail phrases that offer a search volume of less than 100 per month. Here’s an example long tail phrase that is more focused on one are: how to make money online using your phone

There is much less competition for this phrase (the volume is only 40 per month) because it is much more targeted.

How can you zero in and get crystal clear about your topic to make the search volume much less? Start with the keywords everywhere free browser extension.

If you would like a more advanced technique to do both competitive analysis as well as research video specific topics, I highly recommend both SEMRush (a tool used by digital agencies to perform SEO services for their clients) or TubeBuddy (less expensive option). Click here to start a free trial of TubeBuddy today!

Scripting, Recording, and Editing Video

So it’s not like you’re going to just sit in front of the camera and start talking about your topic! If you did that, you’d have a completely failed video strategy, kind of like I did back in January. I literally sketched out 30 topics and planned a rough outline of what I was going to talk about. My thought was that I did not want to read from a teleprompter because I wouldn’t look natural and relaxed. Well, I muddled through it, but I can tell you it was not effective in building my business one iota. I was about to give up, but instead I invested a substantial sum of money and hired a very specific, niche, video mentor.

I was determined to get it right. I learned that there is a specific script formula that needs to be followed in order to get it right. The short description is “Hook, Story, Offer” but unless you’re a superstar sales person, that might not make complete sense. (By get it right I mean monetize….in other words, grow your subscriber base and your revenue with an evergreen lead magnet that plays off the video).

Want to watch a webinar on the “hook, story, offer” strategy? Click here. (You can schedule a time to watch it, doesn’t have to be right this moment).

Once you’ve got your script written, there are some tools you’ll need to deliver it well. I started out by stacking my laptop on some books and recording myself in front of a white wall. I still do this because I think it’s less distracting for viewers than having a messy office behind you.

Here is a list of some of my favorite tools and resources that I use personally. (Please note: I do not recommend products that I do not personally use, so if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask me.)

Editing Software (for Mac): Screenflow
Webinar Software (if you are seeking an all-in-one solution for a lead magnet): Webinarjam
Landing Page Builder with ECommerce Functionality Built in: Clickfunnels

Cameras:
Canon Powershot Elph – from $150
Logitech HD Pro Webcam – from $200
Canon 70D – From $650
GoPro Hero 3 – from $115

Microphones:
Rode Lav Mic
Rode VMGO Video Mic
Boya By-Mic

Tripods:
Livestream Gear
Ravelli

Lighting:
Lumee Light Case for iPhones
Cowboy Studio
Diva Light
Fancierstudio

Publishing and Optimization

On to the third step. Publishing is not as simple as clicking Publish…at least not if you’re going to do it right! It’s important to pay close attention to the tags you use in your videos. One way you can begin is to research the tags that your competitors are using, (again, use TubeBuddy because that will highlight exactly which tags you can rank for). You can also enter those tags into a Google search bar to find out the search volume. Using Google’s Keyword Planner is another way to give you an idea of long tail phrases and search volume. As you prepare to publish your video, you’ll pay close attention to the title, description, and tags. These should be repetitive, and since voice recognition is increasingly important, you should also repeat these key words and phrases in your actual video script.

PRO TIP: Meta-Data is much more than just Title and Description

Other places you can incorporate these tags are within the subtitles, the featured image meta-data, and by using hashtags. Adding hashtags anywhere inside the description box will allow your hashtags to show up right under your title.

Want to learn exactly where to add your meta-data for video SEO? Watch this video.

Tip: If you don't know how to lookup the Source Code to find Keywords inside your competitors videos, you can use TubeBuddy to do it more easily and efficiently.

Engagement & Sharing

Lastly, the methodology of sharing should be done in a strategic way so that you can get as many eyes on your video as possible when it goes public. The first 24 tho 48 hours of publishing a video is the most important, because that indicates to the YouTube algorithm that people are genuinely interested in your video and it allows your video to rank in the search results. Assuming you’ve followed the protocol with tags, descriptions and optimization, this will help your video get as many eyes on it as possible.

Plan to send an email to your list encouraging them to watch your video. Also post or schedule on your other social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to drive even more views to your video.

PRO TIP

Create multiple Pins for your video as well, as Pinterest is a great way to drive traffic to your videos. Did you know that Pinterest now attracts 150 million people per month? If you’d like some additional tips on using Pinterest to drive massive amounts of traffic (to your blog or your videos) check out my Free Pinterest Business Plan Checklist.

Boost your Engagement!

By the way…if you're interested in boosting engagement for your own blog or video, I provide share opportunities for all nîches inside my private Facebook Community, the Digital Collective, where we come together for the purpose of connecting and sharing, and growing each other's social media and blogs! I currently post share threads every Friday (since the group is still small) but we are growing…and as the group grows I will move the threads to more often with a goal of once a day! Click here to join!

Join Today! The Digital Collective of Women Entrepreneurs

Have you tried video yet in your marketing strategy? Let me know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This blog may contain affiliate partner links which allow readers to easily find the resources mentioned and support this blog at no cost to you. While we may earn minimal sums if a reader clicks, you are in no way obligated to use these links. Thank you for your support!
Video Strategy for Bloggers

Website Hosting: How Exactly Does it Work?

First things first: what exactly does website hosting mean?

Website hosting is kind of like a digital file cabinet. Think of your website as if you wrote a bunch of pages in a book. Even if your site only has 3 or 5 pages to start with, if you created your site with WordPress, there are actually hundreds more pages that work behind the scenes that you don’t even see that enable your website to be brought up on people’s computers, phones, and tablets. These pages include all the computer science codes that enable a browser to read the designs, colors, photos, logos, and everything that makes your site unique, including forms such as a contact form, social media integrations, and even the ability to embed video.

Even though WordPress makes it much easier for the average person to create a website these days, all the functionality that makes WordPress work behind the scenes is done with coding languages. The more I browse Pinterest, the more I see folks in the blogosphere giving advice about “how to start a blog and make money”. That's all fine and dandy, but if you’ve never heard of words such as: LAMP Stack, SAAS/LESS, MYSQL, PHP, jQuery, NodeJS, and Task Runners, then please don’t pretend to give advice to people about how to create their first website. Although being proficient in the use of WordPress is a wonderful skill, I myself do not even claim to be a web developer…and I've been creating WordPress websites for businesses both large and small for the digital agencies that I've worked for, for 14 years.

What Do Regular People Need to Know About Hosting?

All that aside, here’s what regular people (like someone who wants to start their own blog) needs to know: Hosting is the virtual environment (sometimes called a “server”) where all your the electronic files are stored. These files make up your website. Your hosting account is what makes your website available for people to find on the internet 24/7. If you’ve ever taken a manual backup of your website (by using a plugin such as UpdraftPlus) then you may have downloaded a bunch of zipped up files to your computer, only to open them up and find a lot of unreadable gobble-de-gook (is that you you spell gobble-de-gook?). Anyway, no need to worry if that happens…as your computer will be able to reformulate the gobble-de-gook back into your beautiful WordPress blog.

What Else Do I Need to Know About Hosting?

Everybody who has a website needs hosting to store their files, and everybody who owns a website should also own an SSL certificate. That is the security feature that automatically protects your site with the https protocol. Recently Google publicly announced that their search results will favor secure websites over insecure ones, and further, they will show the user a message that your site is not secure. Yuck! Who wants that kind of experience for the readers of their blog or their potential customers! This is why it’s so important to have https. What I’m trying to illustrate for you here is that with website hosting, you simply get what you pay for. Why not get SSL for free with your hosting plan from a reputable hosting provider? As a veteran in the industry for 14 years, I use both GoDaddy and Bluehost. For newbies and bloggers setting up WordPress, I highly recommend Bluehost. Still…if you're researching hosting providers, how do you know who to trust? Below is a brief outline of the most well-known hosting providers.

A Little Perspective & Background on Hosting Providers

While this article will speak to the most widely recognized hosting providers, it’s important to note that there are literally thousands of small hosting provides across the globe. Heck, I am even a hosting provider. How is this possible? For digital agencies who want to set up hosting for their clients, they become a sort of intermediary. For example, if you looked at my hosting services through Vogue Media (this link is for informational purposes only, please, PLEASE do not create an account and buy your hosting through this link because this is not my business model any longer. I set this up when I was strictly building websites for clients back in 2006 and I still have a few active sites on this hosting plan, but I’m showing you this link simply for illustrative purposes so you can see how versatile the hosting providers really are). In this model, I am/was a reseller of GoDaddy hosting. You'll see how similar my “shop” looks to GoDaddy. What that means is that I can sell GoDaddy domains, hosting, and any other product available on GoDaddy through my own store. It's different from an affiliate program, I'm actually a reseller, not an affiliate. The program came out well before most internet affiliate programs and is only available to digital agencies. Interesting right?! So the point I’m trying to make here is that smaller hosting companies may not provide the same great service as large ones do. So what does that mean for bloggers? Here are the critical points you should know about the most widely recognized hosting providers:

1&1 and GoDaddy are vying for world hosting domination for the largest global providers for enterprise business, global corporations, and also small business. The drawback is that for the newbie blogger, these hosting provider can make things seem super techy and completely overwhelming. As someone who worked in a Digital Agency, I used providers like this for large corporations. This is why I very highly recommend Bluehost for bloggers, but more on that in a moment. 1&1 is a European company while GoDaddy is a US based company. Both offer essentially the same services, however, for larger businesses (and businesses who gross between about $1 million and $10 million and have their own tech team) I prefer GoDaddy over 1&1 simply because their dashboard is more intuitive. I’ve used both for different clients since 2006, and feel confident in GoDaddy’s ability to deliver to the larger business and corporate business for web hosting.

Endurance International Group owns two big players, Bluehost and HostGator, as well as Constant Contact and iPage. Bluehost is known for their user-friendly WordPress hosting and they also offer a FREE SSL Certificate which makes them a very good choice for new bloggers. HostGater is for larger businesses, but from a flexibility standpoint, cannot compete with GoDaddy and 1&1. Bluehost is significantly easier for the average person to navigate, and their customer service team caters to the average, non-techy person.

SiteGround Hosting is an independent web hosting company founded in 2004. They are based in Bulgaria. They are heavily marketed in the affiliate blogging world because of the low up-front hosting fees, however, they collect large fees on the back end. That means after a year or two when it’s time to renew, it will be several hundred dollars for the year instead of $40. This is not ideal, and they also do not offer Free SSL or stress the importance of SSL, therefore I do not recommend this company.

BlueHost

Other companies that offer all-in-one hosting packages are those such as Wix and Weebly, but you absolutely get what you pay for. The ability to monetize, customize and add plugins and integrations is very limited with these types of website builders. These website builders are best for the hobbiest, but you’re planning to use your site for business, then this is not the best option.

Do I need a Shared or Dedicated Server?

Next question, do you need a shared server or a dedicated server? This is an easy one, if you are a small business and you’re not expecting millions and millions of views, you don’t need to pay extra for a dedicated server. Facebook needs a dedicated server. Your business probably does not. And even if you become the most successful blogger in the world and you do start generating millions and millions of views each day on your website, then you can very easily upgrade to a dedicated server. Easy to understand that right?

Should You Transfer to Another Hosting Provider if You're Not Happy with Yours?

If you were one of the unfortunate ones who fell victim to an affiliate promotion and purchased a plan through a shoddy hosting provider, how hard is it, really, to transfer your site somewhere else? I’m here to reassure you, it’s not that hard and I can help you do it in less time than you think. I know what you’re thinking, you did a lot of work on your blog in the last year and you don’t want to lose everything. It’s really not that complicated and I’m going to fully walk you through it, step by step of how to transfer your website from one host to another with very minimal downtime, in fact, the entire process can take as little as one hour. So if you’re interested, make sure you click head over to my YouTube Channel and click that subscribe button. Note that Subscribing to my YouTube Channel does not add you to my email list, and it also does not send you any automatic notifications (I get it…I'm busy and I don't need to be pinged every time someone posts something!) You'll simply see my channel in your “lineup” any time you visit YouTube. So go ahead and visit my new channel for high quality and free blogging tips! I have the “how do I move my hosting” video planned for mid-April.

Interested in learning more about the other tools and resources that I recommend? Click Here to visit my Resources page.

What questions do you have about website hosting? Ask me in the comments below!

Website Hosting: What Bloggers Should Know

List Building: How to Get it Right

Why Build a List?

The first step to understanding how to structure your perfect opt-in (more commonly referred to as a lead magnet) is to determine why you're building a list in the first place. Many businesses start by creating a newsletter sign up on their website, and unfortunately, newsletters went out of style years ago. (If you're still sending Email Newsletters, read this first! The best strategy to grow your revenue online in 2019 is to build your list with a very targeted and specific lead magnet.

But how do you determine what the precise lead magnet will be? Ask yourself this question first: Who is your ideal customer? It’s critical to become crystal clear about your ideal consumer, and having only one list means that you don’t have a way to differentiate between who is who on your list. The biggest mistake businesses make in this initial stage of targeting is that they don’t zero in on the hyper-specific details of their ideal client or customer. When you offer a lead magnet, you can control your targeting and segment your list into meaningful categories.

First things first. Before you can even figure out what type of opt-in or lead magnet you’re offering, you’ll need to be crystal clear about WHO you sell to. This will help you determine the ideal client or customer that you want on your email list, because you don’t want just anyone, and you definitely don’t want as many people as possible. WHY? because Ideal customer’s recognize the need your product or service fulfills for them…they trust your expertise and they will come back to you again and again for help in solving their problem.

When thinking about the broad scope of why you’re building an email list in the first place, consider what you are going to offer in the context of how it will help you move this ideal target client or customer closer to buying your product or service. Essentially the lead magnet is a smaller piece of what you plan to sell to them. For example, if you are selling marriage counseling services, your lead magnet might be “enter your email address and we’ll send you 10 text messages to instantly start a conversation with your significant other”. That is a very targeted way to get someone to opt into your email list, and it’s also a great way to prep them for an email nurturing sequence.

Whatever your nîche may be, it’s important to really think about WHO you’re selling to first in order to determine the lead magnet that will attract the perfect customers for you.

Nurturing and Segmentation

Understanding and thoughtful planning of the sequence of events that happen once someone gives you their email address in exchange for your lead magnet is critical. Some people call this the “funnel” or nurturing sequence. If set up properly, it’s the process by which the person moves through their customer journey inside your sales funnel and eventually emerges as a customer instead of a prospect. With digital marketing, the strategy is put in place as soon as a person provides their email address. Another term for the structure of this process is email automation.

In the past, businesses used to just send an email to deliver the guide, freebie, or whatever it was that was requested. That is no longer the best strategy. Instead, smart business owners use the first email as a way to connect and establish a relationship with their new prospect.

It may sound counter-intuitive to not want “everybody” on your email list, but the tighter the list the better. In other words, the way most businesses think is, the more people on my list the more potential customers I have to sell to, but that’s just not how it works with online marketing in 2019. People are savvy buyers, they do research online before they buy, and they know what they’re looking for, so unless you have established a rapport with your list, they will simply ignore your emails.

The biggest secret to generating revenue with email is to have an engaged list. Once you do, you can evaluate important digital metrics such as how people found you, what content is effective and working, how your ads and content offers affect your bottom line, and which of your online campaigns are converting the best.

Lets go back to your offer to see what kinds of people could potentially end up on your list.

There 4 kinds of leads that will opt-in to your offer …
1. Freebie Seeker
2. Researcher
3. Proof Seeker
4. Raving Fan/Evangelist

1. Freebie Seeker – no matter what you offer, she just wants the free download. She will probably never spend a dime on what you have to offer, she’s just looking for the next free download. That is not your ideal customer.

2. Researcher – She’s following your channels and she likes what you have to say, but she’s still not sure if you have the right product to solve her problem. What happens after she downloads her lead magnet is very important. The follow up sequence (or funnel) is critical for this type of lead in order to move her forward on her buyer’s journey.

3. Proof is in the Pudding – this person needs proof in order for her to open her wallet and buy from you. This is something easy to do once you have a page built specifically for testimonials or case studies, depending on what type of business you have. I will also go into more detail about this step in another video.

4. Raving Fan/Evangelist – she’s the perfect lead…she’s a big fan of you and your business. These leads are a critical part of your list b/c they will tell her friends and followers about you and what you have to offer.

For my email automation, I use and highly recommend AWeber. It's a platform that is easy and intuitive to use, and integrates well with just about any other platform.

AWeber Email Marketing

The 4 types of leads mentioned above will always make up the majority of your list. Understanding the funnel means that you need to treat each one of these types of leads differently with a different follow up sequence. I know it sounds like a lot to set up 4 different followup sequences, but if you do, it will make your online marketing so much easier as you move ahead.

If you’d like some help getting crystal clear about your email marketing, take a look at my Ebook: The Power of Email Marketing

The Power of Email Marketing

The Proper Way to Build a List
,

How to Control the Pin-No-Pin Meta-Tag on Pinterest

Why might you want to control the pins from your blog?

Sometimes it doesn't make sense to start off your blog post with a gigantic vertical rectangle like this:

Pin no pin meta tag

Implementing the “pin-no-pin” meta-tag within your WordPress website is a great way to control what your readers can pin to their Pinterest boards, without having to sacrifice images that don't always enhance the way your post looks and reads. Because Pinterest is so visual, most professional bloggers want to make sure their content both stands out above the competition and provides an exceptional experience for their audience.

Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.

In 2018, 2.4% of U.S workers voluntarily quit their jobs. That number is absolutely staggering. (In case you’re wondering, that is millions of people). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there haven’t been rates this outstanding since 2001.

New media has made it a genuine reality for people across the globe to work for themselves. This is exciting for the global workforce, because it’s so different from what life was like when many of us first started our career. Social networks not only enable connections for social reasons, if you know how to use them in the right way, they act as a vehicle for an infinite number of possibilities for growing your business.

If you spend a lot of time on Pinterest, you know the network is much more a search engine than it is a social network; I recently had the opportunity to meet with Charlie Padilla from Pinterest who gave me some great insights about the platform. Optimizing your blog for Pinterest using the “pin-no-pin” meta-tag is a great way to ensure that you have complete control over what your content (pins) look like across the platform.

Optimizing Your Blog Images for Pinterest

Optimized pins are the best at 1000px by 1500px (these pins are also sometimes referred to as the “long” rectangle). They are both visually attractive and they take up a lot more vertical space than their square counterparts. In order to be eye-catching and impactful, be sure to put careful thought into both your design and your copy. If you are designing these images yourself, a great tool to get started with is Design Wizard. Design Wizard is an easy and intuitive to use cloud-based app, and they already have pre-set sizes and templates that you can modify to match your own branding.

Design Wizard Try It

If you are a graphic designer or need something a little more robust for customizing your images, I recommend PicMonkey. PicMonkey is kind of like Photoshop but not quite as expensive.

To further optimize your pins for the best visual impact, aim to use at least 2 different fonts and colors that compliment your logo and branding.

When you don’t use the pin-no-pin meta-tag, and a user pins from your blog post, they will get a choice of any image that is part of your blog, and that includes images on your sidebar, the featured image, as well as any embedded video thumbnail images. A typical blog post that is not optimized for Pinterest pins will look something like this when a reader clicks to pin:

All the pins

This is not ideal, because the user can choose any of these images, and most of the time, a reader doesn’t really care which image they choose, they'll choose the first one, or wherever they happen to click; they just want to be able to come back to your website later. The problem with this method is that anyone who follows their boards will then see a pin that is not as “optimized” as it could be, and it may even be a photo from your sidebar, an ad, or something that isn't even really related to that post.

You want to ensure that your blog reader can only pin what you want them to. After all, you've spent a lot of time creating Pins specifically to correlate to your post, you want them to Pin the right image! To do this, you will use something called Inline CSS to wrap the images that you don’t want pinned in a specific meta-tag that tells your blog “hey, don't make this photo available to pin”.

data-pin-nopin="true"

Now, when you add the code above to the images you don't want pinned, when the reader tries to pin, they get something like this instead:

example of the right pin

Here’s how the code actually looks inside the body of your post:

<a href="http://the-url.com"><img src="https://your-image.jpg" alt="Your Image Alt-Text" class="aligncenter data-pin-nopin="true" /></a>

The above Inline CSS is used whenever you embed an image directly into your blog post. This is also called “manual” coding. It should be used when you embed a YouTube video as well, otherwise the rectangular YouTube Thumbnail will also show up as an option. There are other meta-tags you can use such as the data-pin-media as well as the data-pin-description, but you won’t need to do that if you have your Pinterest account enabled as a business account. That would be the recommended and automated way to pull in the rich-text directly from your blog’s meta-tags into your Pinterest Pin, that way you won’t have to deal with coding this manually using these additional tags. To enable your blog for business, follow the link to this article that explains how to do it on Pinterest.

The WordPress Sidebar

The next item of business is to take care of the sidebar. Since your sidebar likely changes often, I find that the most efficient way to take care of this is to add a snippet of code to your WordPress Theme’s Functions File. Don’t let this “techy” stuff scare you. To see a quick demo, watch the video below.

Before you modify your website’s code, I highly recommend making a backup just in case you accidentally change or delete something wrong. Code is very sensitive and even a space in the wrong place can throw it all off and take down your entire website. To make a backup of your site for Free, I recommend using the Free version of the WordPress plugin UpdraftPlus.

To add a snippet to your functions.php file:

/* added by Insert Your Name to exclude featured image and sidebar images from pinning  */

function modify_post_thumbnail_html($html, $post_id, $post_thumbnail_id, $size, $attr) {
    $id = get_post_thumbnail_id(); 
    $src = wp_get_attachment_image_src($id, $size); 
    $alt = get_the_title($id); 

    $html = '<img src="' . $src[0] . '" alt="' . $alt . '" data-pin-nopin="true" />';

    return $html;
}
add_filter('post_thumbnail_html', 'modify_post_thumbnail_html', 99, 5);


add_filter( 'generate_logo_attributes', function( $atts ) {
    $atts['data-pin-nopin'] = true;

    return $atts;
} );

Finally, the code that you want to use so that the image you want Pinned shows up as an option to Pin but not a big long rectangle inside your blog post looks like this:

<div style="display:none;"><a href="your-blog-post-link.com/"><img src="image-you-want-pinned.jpg" alt="Title-of-Image" /></a></div>

<div style="display:none;"><img src="https://vogue-media.com/2017/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/pin-no-pin-meta-tag-1-149x300.jpg" alt="Pin no pin meta tag " width="149" height="300" class="alignleft size-medium wp-image-2147" /></div>

I hope you enjoyed this post! What other questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

Intuitive Website = A Smarter Digital Course

Thinking of creating a Digital Course? Here's why your website needs to start with an intuitive plan. Designers call this UI/UX Design.

Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.

UI/UX Design is really just a fancy way of saying “user experience” and “user interface design” and in simple terms, this means making sure your blog, website, and digital course are easy and intuitive for people to navigate so they can find exactly what they're looking for…quickly.

Over the few years, I've built dozens of successful online courses for my clients. (Before I started my own business, I worked in corporate and agency marketing and built websites & digital marketing plans for global corporations for 14 years). Believe it or not, many people don't really consider user experience when they first create their website…and you're not alone…marketing directors at large corporations don't always consider it either!

Fast forward to 2019, where consumers now embrace mobile devices and seek information at their convenience, so the rules of brand engagement are continuously evolving. If your website isn’t set up to adapt and respond to visits from many different screen resolutions, you may miss out on opportunities. To achieve greater success with both your regular audience as well as your students, (and the search engines!) aim to make your website not only look fantastic on different screen sizes, but make sure your mobile navigation menu, header, and footer are set up in a way that reflect precisely what you want your customer to do next. When brands think about how to reach their consumer on the consumer's terms, in the right moment, with the right information…it feels less like sales and more like the connection you're aiming for.

Here are 5-Steps to building a successful digital course (based on Google’s best practices)

Step 1

Organize audience insights: The first step in the process involves a little research into your audience to determine exactly what information they are looking for. What pages get the most hits on your website? What time of day does your audience typically visit? If it's a course you'll be selling, you will want to measure your audience insights carefully to help determine when you might “go live” for a Q & A session, or what types of tools they will need for support as they navigate through your course. In thinking through delivery, will you use video? Video with screen capture? Audio podcasts? And what platform will you use to deliver the membership capabilities of your course? While it might seem simple to use Teachable or Udemy, the biggest drawback to these platforms is that you will not have control of your business. Watch this video to learn why I do not recommend using Udemy or Teachable to deliver your course:

Click here to learn more about my Digital Course: How to Build Your Own Digital Course

Step 2

Design compelling creative. It's so important to make sure that both your website as well as your social media and the sales page you use for the promotion of your course or product is visually compelling. First impressions are everything online, so if you don't capture the attention of your audience within seconds, you'll miss out on the opportunity to sell to them. Even the most educational courses have to be compelling enough to capture attention first. There are a few ways to accomplish this if you're not a graphic designer yourself. Consider starting with an easy-to-use tool such as Design Wizard. With social sizes already built in, you can choose from a variety of free backgrounds and fonts.

If you're looking for something more robust, but you don't want to invest in an expensive app like Photoshop, PicMonkey (Click for a free trial) is easy to use and much less expensive than Photoshop.

For free stock photos, I like Unsplash and Pexels. But most people run out of options there, so 123RF provides a library of stock art that is much less expensive than iStockphoto and Getty. If you need some B-Roll for your videos, you can get access to over 25,000 stock videos at one low price with StockNation (it's also a membership site for a one-time fee, so you can go back to download more videos at any time).

Prefer the services of a professional designer to create something custom (like a new logo or branding package), my recommendation is 99Designs which is a good, inexpensive way to get a team of graphic artists to choose from to bring your brand alive visually and implement brand consistency across all channels, all without the crazy fee of hiring your own design team. An even less expensive option is to hire an overseas freelancer instead from Fiverr.

99 Designs

Step 3

Execute with integrated technology. It’s possible to fully analyze a consumer’s purchase path and understand which touchpoints are most likely to translate into action, however, it’s also important to have a good tool for measuring your data. I recommend different tools to different businesses, depending on the size and scope of your project.

Tools for Delivery of Your Digital Course

For small businesses looking for the best all-inclusive option for both sales pages as well as course delivery, then I highly recommend Clickfunnels. It's a website and landing page builder with E-Commerce built in, so it really simplifies the online shopping experience if you have less than 20 products. Not to mention, it also has a membership site capability and marketing automation system all wrapped up in one, very easy to use package. Translation…you can sell your very own Digital Course without the need for a platform such as Udemy or Teachable. Those platforms severely limit your ability to sell, customize your sales page, connect with your audience, and keep profits that really should be yours, so if you are considering a digital course at some point, I very highly recommend Clickfunnels. I have used this platform for both my own online course as well for as my clients, so please…don't hesitate to ask me if you have any questions about it!

Clickfunnels 14-Day Free Trial

For greater creative control over your membership site in terms of having multiple courses or dripping content on a specific schedule, you can incorporate WishList directly into your WordPress Dashboard. You will need to also implement the e-commerce plugin WooCommerce in order to sell your course, so if you're fairly comfortable with WordPress and Plugin Integrations, you will be able to use these options instead of Clickfunnels. If you're super tech-savvy, then WishList will be a great option for your course and membership site. Keep in mind that you may need the help of a professional for a more custom look and feel if you don't know basic HTML/CSS.

For businesses with between $1 Million and $4 Million in Annual Revenue, I recommend using HubSpot (Click here for a 30-day free trial), in conjunction with either WishList or Clickfunnels because of the automated intelligence that HubSpot offers. This platform combines your website, blog, email marketing, seo research, analytics, and social media marketing in one comprehensive but intuitive dashboard, giving a crystal clear picture of your traffic. Now HubSpot does not offer a membership capability on it's own, so this is why it needs to be implemented along with either WishList or Clickfunnels, but, HubSpot easily integrates with both, so if it's insight you're looking for, then this is how you'll get it done. Again, I have used this tool myself as well as for clients. Getting it all right can take time depending on the size and scope of your business and your project, but don't get discouraged, if you have questions, just ask me!

Step 4

Reach audiences across screens. Plan for the mobile world we live in now, not the world you grew up in. Now that your site is intuitive and responsive across all devices, implementing programmatic advertising affords brands to take a big leap toward actionable measurement. Optimize your images and ads for mobile too…not just your theme.

Responsive Design

Recently, Google publicly announced that their search engine algorithm will take both quality content as well as the mobile-readiness of your website into consideration when listing your website in its index. What this means is that your website needs to retain both quick loading speeds as well as easily readable content. This core functionality is especially important when accessed from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.

Even if search engines weren't partially judging your site based on its responsiveness, it would still be a great idea to build your site in a way that optimizes the user experience. After all, now that you've engaged a customer enough to buy your course, you want to make sure to continue delivering a great experience.

Good developers already build sites to be intuitive and responsive right out of the gate, but if your site hasn't been updated for a year or two, it’s definitely worth your time to understand how the research and planning process works, and why it’s important to the success of your digital course (or whatever you're ultimately selling.) Not to mention, if you take a short cut and use a platform such as Udemy or Teachable to deliver your course, you're really going to miss out on the real benefit and longevity of an online business. Lets talk about that more.

Step 5

Measure the impact. How will you know what high level decisions to make and what KPIs to tweak unless you implement a plan to measure the progress? Whether it's just you evaluating your metrics or other key decision makers and stakeholders, you want to be armed with a way to understand the metrics. Consider implementing Google Analytics at the very least, and for greater understanding of your metrics, implement the Google Tag Manager and Data Studio to bring your metrics to life.

For an easier to use experience in researching your competition as well as your own online data and measurement, check out my affiliate partner SEMRush who provides much more sophisticated intelligence to help you understand your audience and their behaviors on your website. You will no doubt get better answers to your questions and be able to make more informed decisions about your marketing spend and creative direction with good measurement tools.

A closer look at intuitive UI/UX Design & Site Architecture

A very important component of usability is site architecture. More recently referred to as UI/UX design, planning for proper organization and structure will allow your users to easily and intuitively find exactly what they are looking for quickly and efficiently. Instead of sending them in loops without a clear-cut path to finding the information they need, you can use what industry professionals call a wireframe plan to help you organize your structure. A wireframe is simply a visual representation of the flow of your website design.

This step is easy to overlook, yet without a carefully planned site architecture, many website redesigns will only yield a “prettier” version of your old website…without improving upon usability. Using a wireframe as a guide can assist with constructing the page schematics and visual blueprints. While most professional designers and creative agencies will provide a wireframe report during the research and planning phase to help organize your project before any development takes place, there is no reason why bloggers can't do this too! If you would like to play around designing your own wireframes for free, check out Wireframe.cc.

Once your website is organized in a way that makes it easy and intuitive for your visitors to get answers to their questions, you then take complete control of the sales process. Instead of being “salesy” you instead become helpful because you've provided a solution to their problem, and you've done it in a way that makes it esy for them to find the solution. This makes their experience and their interactions with you much more pleasant, and shareworthy!

Interested in learning about how Email Marketing has the highest ROI of all forms of digital marketing? Check out my Ebook for the latest strategies to help you sell your digital course to your audience in a way that truly increases your changes of being successful: The Power of Email Marketing

The Power of Email Marketing

Create a Digital Course

Email Nurturing: Are You Doing It Right?

Are You Still Sending Email Newsletters?

Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.

So many businesses, both large and small are still sending out email newsletters, and by the way…that is not the same thing as using email automation to grow revenue, in fact sending newsletters will very rarely, if ever, provide any return on investment for your business. Let me show you the difference.

First things first. We’ve all got way too much email in our inbox right…it feels like every time you unsubscribe from something, you get 10 more emails in return. Email Marketing Automation is everywhere. I’ve even changed my email addresses just to get rid of all the noise.

So think about the typical email newsletter…a company shares once a month, or maybe even once a week. Maybe they’ve moved into a new location, or maybe they’re welcoming a new employee. If you make a living as a blogger, you might be sharing an excerpt of your blog posts and then linking to the last 4 or 6 blogs that you wrote. So now, think about how you feel when you’re busy opening emails and you receive a business newsletter and it’s filled with all kinds of links and different things going on…maybe one thing catches your eye, but the reality is, you’re way too busy to click through on every single link in there, because there are just too many choices and you really don’t have time.

Maybe you’ll come back later, but the data shows that’s not likely. What data? Marketing data from all over the world that is aggregated and published by literally every important marketing company that exists (HubSpot, Salesforce, SEMRush, you get the picture). Anyway…if you do send these kinds of newsletters you’re not going to like this data very much but it’s the truth; most people don’t care about what’s new in your business this week. What people care about is how you can solve their problem, if they happen to have a problem that you have a solution for.

Aweber Email Marketing

So how does all this translate into setting up automated campaigns that actually generate revenue for your business?

The key is to set up your email automation using JUST ONE nurturing sequence at a time which corresponds to your audiences exact place in the sales funnel. Wait, what? What does that mean and how do I know this? Because so much automated intelligence exists that allows thousands of marketers every day to analyze their data…and it’s all black and white. In other words, nobody has go “guess” anymore. In the past, a business would market their brand by placing an ad in a magazine or on billboard, and back then, they never had an accurate way to measure how effective their ad was. So all these dollars were spent on traditional marketing, but how did they know what really worked or what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure? They didn’t. If they were smart in 1995, they set up different phone numbers so they could track where people saw their ad based on whether they actually called their business, but that’s old news because now we can accurately track email clicks on both websites and within email marketing campaigns, and that’s how we know that email newsletters are just not effective.

So instead of sending another newsletter, here are the steps you can take today to start turning things around:

  1. Write down the exact problem that your audience has.
  2. Write down the exact solution that you provide, that solves their problem.
  3. Apply your solution to the sales funnel; now if this sounds a little confusing, lets look at a real live example.

Journey Mapping

In the world of digital marketing, “mapping” a prospect's place in the sales cycle to an appropriate nurturing sequence is called Journey Mapping. You’ll first figure out whether your audience is in the awareness stage, the consideration stage, or the decision stage of the sales funnel. These are 3 markedly different phases of decision making, and will affect your email nurturing sequence depending on what phase they are in.

So how do you know what phase they’re in? Digitally, this is done by segmenting or grouping your website visitors into categories based on the measurable actions they take on your website. For example, you gain some perspective on your audience by paying close attention to what blogs they’re reading on your website. Which of your posts gets the most traffic? To accomplish this in a very early stage (if you are used to sending email newsletters and you’re looking to transition to automating your emails for the purpose of generating revenue) then you’ll need to begin by sending an email for the sole purpose of grouping your audience into different categories.

It’s as simple as sending an email that provides two different options…so say your business or blog is about sustainability, ultimately, you’re selling a digital course that teaches people how to build a bin for composting, so your blog topics are likely all related to gardening and composting. If you already have subscribers on your email list and it’s just one list, you’ll start by sending an email that offers only two different options: either click here to read about learning the importance of composting for sustainability, or click here for a cost comparison of buying different types of compost bins compared to building your own out of leftover household materials. That differentiation now clearly separates your audience into beginners versus advanced. You’ll know based on who clicked which link where they are in their personal journey. So then ultimately if your goal is to sell that digital course on how to build your own composting bin, then you know how to properly nurture people based on where they are in their educational journey…in other word’s their “buyer’s journey”. Then you can take measures to properly group people when they first sign up for your list. You can do this in a few different ways:

  1. Add a choice to your opt-in form so instead of asking only for their email address, you’ll add an additional question that will give you the answer to what you’ll eventually send them…so it might say “what type of gardener are you” (so they choose: I’m a beginner or I’m advanced).
  2. This can also be accomplished by taking a quick survey on your Facebook page or even emailing your current list and saying that you want to provide content that is relevant so you’re taking a quick survey to see what your readers are most interested in. Then as they click, you’ll again go back and analyze your data to find out more about your audience.

As you can see, talking to your audience about precisely what they’re interested in is a much better way to nurture them through the different stages of their buyer’s journey and toward making a purchase from you.

Here is a video with some illustrations to help you better understand the nurturing funnel. If you enjoy my video, please click the Subscribe button in the lower right hand corner of your screen!

If you’d like to learn even more about how this all works, pick up a copy of my new ebook: The Power of Email Marketing. You’ll also find links to my affiliate parents for tools that I use myself.

This above video is part 2 of 2. Here is a link to [Part 1: Email Marketing Automation].

Affiliate Partners that I both use Myself and Recommend:

Best for Email Marketing Automation if you already have a website: Aweber

Easiest and Most Intuitive Landing Page/Opt-In/Website Builder for Small Business: Clickfunnels (Click for a 14-Day Free Trial)

Most Robust Platform for Email Marketing + Website Builder all in one for Small to Medium Sized Businesses who have revenue between $1Million and $10Million: HubSpot (Click for a 30-Day Free Trial)

Interested in learning more? Check out my Ebook: The Power of Email Marketing

Free Guide to Email Marketing

Are You Still Sending Email Newsletters

How to Get Better Results with Online Ads

Wondering why you aren't getting good results with your online advertising efforts?

Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.

Marketing a small business online is very different from traditional forms of marketing. When diving in to the world of online advertising, knowing exactly how to target the right audience is incredibly significant. However, even with the best audience targeting strategy in place, there are a few other factors to pay attention to…including your headlines, copy, creative, and retargeting strategies.

Lets take a closer look at each of the 4 elements that make up a sensational and revenue generating ad campaign:

Element 1: Headlines & Copy

The average attention span has shortened significantly in the past two decades, to the tune of just 8 seconds (according to research conducted by Microsoft). We are constantly interrupted by text messages, tweets, push notifications, ads, Facebook, email, and the list goes on. That means if you don't have an attention grabbing headline at the very least, your ad is likely to get passed over.

You don't necessarily need to be a professional copywriter to come up with a great headline, but it does take a little thought and careful planning. When social media first hit the scene for business, the year was 2006. Most corporations and small business owners alike weren't even sure if social media would stay the course long-term or just become a passing trend. Now the competition is becoming more and more apparent, but those who know how to implement the strategies and tactics properly can soar past their competition.

Here's an example of a scenario that has happened hundreds of times over the last 14 years as I worked at a digital agency and assisted small business owners from all difference nîches who simply weren't getting the results they were hoping for from their Facebook ad campaigns. Turns out it was all in how the ad was positioned which didn't quite resonate with their intended audience.

What is positioning?

A positioning statement is a very brief, concise description of how your product or service benefits your customer and solves their unique problem. In order for an ad to be effective, there are two parts to the positioning of the ad: 1. you need to be able to state how your product or service solves the problem in just a few words. When it's unclear what you're offering, people get confused and keep scrolling. 2. The problem and solution need to match up to the proper phase of the sales funnel. Lets expand on this with an example.

A Not-so-good Positioning Statement

Does wanting to learn how to start a blog make you want to pull your hair out? I have the answer to your frustration! I've created a comprehensive training program that walks you through how to start a blog and make money step by step so you can get you up running in under an hour.

A Good Positioning Statement

Stuck on how to start a money-making blog? Start by downloading this Free Guide!

With a few tweaks to your copy and the image, you can easily get great results when running an ad to the right target audience. I've been running online ad campaigns for clients since the start of online advertising, and I've seen businesses of all sizes struggle to get it right. Why do they struggle?

Element 2: The Sales Funnel

If you don't have an extensive background in sales and marketing, you might not be quite as familiar with something called the Sales Funnel. A Sales Funnel is really just a fancy way digital agencies describe talking to their potential customer in a way that resonates.

A digital sales funnel has 3 phases: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision, and each one of these phases is markedly different. Designing a proper ad campaign needs to properly correspond to the exact phase in the funnel or it just won't work.

Here's why. Most businesses who are new to online marketing intend to target “new” customers, which would correspond to the “awareness” stage. However, the business unknowingly designs an ad campaign which corresponds to the decision stage and then wonders why nobody is buying their product or service.

Think about it this way: What do you do when you hear about a product or service that is new to you? You Google it. At this time, you're most likely in the research phase, where you're probably not quite ready to buy, but you're looking for more information to learn about how this product or service will solve your problem.

If the ad campaign is set up to target “new” customers and then the link takes them directly to an order form that you created with Samcart or Paypal, you'll never get that potential buyer to open their wallet because you're targeting them in the wrong phase of their customer journey.

They're not ready to buy yet. They need to learn who you are, how and why your product or service will solve their problem better than anyone else, and then read testimonials from others who have experienced great results. So what does this mean? In this particular instance, it means that you should have something called a sales page which is an intermediate step that comes between the ad campaign and the order form.

The Digital Sales Funnel

This above is just one small example of how a small business owner might not be getting the results they expect with online advertising. Keep in mind there are 3 phases to the sales funnel, and knowing how to both position your product as well as speak to your intended customer is what makes all the difference from a stellar ad campaign and one that flops. Need some help with your online marketing and advertising strategy? Click here to view my services. Prefer to DIY instead? Read on for some ways to get started…

For small start-ups and budget conscious entrepreneurs who need help but also want to DIY, you might want to consider investing a small amount of money into an online tool that can really ignite your copywriting. FunnelScripts can save even the best copywriter an incredible amount of time and effort, and for those who make a living with an online business, it's an absolute no-brainer that is worth it's weight in gold. The software asks you a few simple questions about your topic, and then writes your headlines, ads, and email sequences for you. You plug in answers to the questions, click “generate” and then just copy and paste! The software literally generates 100 headline options with the click of a button.

FunnelScripts Affiliate Partner

Element 3: Ad Creative

We all know the old adage…a picture is worth a thousand words. Never overlook what your ad looks like. A good ad can help with branding, credibility, and provide you with authority overall. But again, not every small business owner has the budget to hire their own designer. There are a few options if you are fairly tech savvy and you want to design your ad yourself. You could start by grabbing some free stock art from sources such as Unsplash or Pexels. Keep in mind though, that using free stock art and/or clip art will increase the risk of your ad looking the same as hundreds, even thousands of others. A better option is to pay a nominal fee for stock art from one of the following resources (each of the resources listed below is a link):

PixiStock (Great for Female Entrepreneurs)

123RF

Stockvideo (One-time fee of $37 for access to a library of 25,000 video clips)

Adobe Stock

iStockphoto

Shutterstock

Getty Images

Once you've got the perfect image to capture your audience, you can use a tool like Photoshop (but not as expensive) called PicMonkey. Start with a free-trial of PicMonkey by clicking this link. Prefer to work one-on-one with a freelancer instead? Try Fiverr

Finally, if you're not in to DIY design, the most cost-effective option for a professionally designed ad or a logo and branding package from a designer that can elevate your brand to an entirely different level, check out 99Designs. Their packages are inexpensive compared to hiring a graphic designer straight up, and you get a great quality design which you can have a hand in selecting.

99 Designs

Element 4: Re-targeting

Aside from an ad's creative, one of the most recognizable ways to use social media advertising is for re-targeting.

Using the ad platforms to retarget is one of the most sought after strategies that big corporations use to increase sales and brand awareness, and the same strategy works for small businesses too. It’s a powerful way to improve the effectiveness of your ads, especially for e-commerce businesses.

When you visit a website and then you see the exact product you viewed a day or two later in your newsfeed, that’s retargeting. Psychologically, buying habits are complex, but it’s widely known that consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they see an item they were previously considering again.

According to research from Moore Stevens, an accounting firm in the United Kingdom, brands in Great Britan and North America now spend 23% of their budget on marketing technology. That equates to over $52 billion ad dollars a year in online advertising. So if big business can do this, so can you.

Selecting and segmenting (in other words, grouping) your audience is the most basic and important criteria of running a successful retargeting campaign because you absolutely don’t want to target everyone who visited your website with the same ad. This just happened to me recently. I bought someone’s ebook, and then a day later, the ebook ad was shown to me again, several times over the course of 3 days, in my newsfeed. It was getting so annoying that I actually unsubscribed from her email list.

To avoid annoying your customers with ads, it’s important to segment and group your website’s visitors into categories according to their behaviors and the actions they take on your website. For example: you can segment based on people who visit your page without buying anything, a visitor who clicked and almost made a purchase but abandoned their shopping cart and closed their browser without buying, and then visitors who completed a purchase from you.

The best way to get started is to segment the buying customers from the visitors so that you don’t accidentally show the buyers an ad the next day for the product they just bought.

To do this, you would simply configure a custom audience for each different ad. By using the custom audience feature inversely, you can exclude anyone who visited the thank you page URL (because that means they already made a purchase).

Be sure to check out my YouTube channel, as I've posted a mini-series on online advertising with specific insights into the different steps to configuring your audience, setting up your ad, measuring the metrics, and optimization. Each video is only between 4-8 minutes in length.

The Digital Collective

Would you like to join a FREE Private Community of women to help you connect and grow your online business? Click here to join my new Facebook group where I post share threads so you can gain blog or video comments, as well as likes and follows for all your social media channels.

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How to get better results with online advertising

How to Write for Conversions + The Sales Funnel

Who knew writing for the web would be any different from any other form of writing?

No matter how beautiful a website design looks, your site is just not complete without great copy. From headlines and captions to the text in the meta-data fields, your words are what convert a website visitor into a paying customer. Is your strategy working? Do you even have a strategy yet?

Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.

When you're considering starting a blog, or if you're just looking for ways to optimize your website, copywriting is one of the most important but overlooked components to a brand’s overall marketing efforts from building a website to their digital marketing plan to their customer service.

Consider the first thing you do when you find out about something that is “new to you.” Most of us perform a Google search. Yet the way people search for information online is very different today from what it was even one year ago. Think about your own online behavior today in comparison to what it was 3, 5, or even 10 years ago. The expectation is that Google will deliver search results that are relevant to the words you just typed.

Define Relevant.

Since the search engines work on algorithms and can’t read your mind, they rely on highly sophisticated and technical formulas, which are essentially a computer’s interpretation of what it thinks is relevant to your search term.

One factor that can make a big difference in relevance is location.

Imagine if you search for Italian Restaurants from your phone while walking down the street in Los Angeles, CA compared to searching for Italian Restaurants as a passenger in the car on the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia, PA. The person searching has the expectation that the search engine will deliver results that are relevant to their specific location, even if they don’t specify that location. Over the past year, Google began refining their voice search even more to match natural linguistics.

“Hey Siri, find the best Italian Restaurant”
How then does a business that sells to customer’s across the country and across the world become relevant in a search without a location being specified? You guessed it! Website copy. It’s a rather simple concept, but the strategy behind good copywriting is to deliver both quality content as well as relevant content…all at the same time.

Here are four laser focused suggestions for how to write for the web:

1. Identify Your Goal:

If you are selling something, stay focused on selling that item. Consider this: Every time a person clicks somewhere, it is a persuasion for them to move to the next element. Perhaps your goal is to get your visitor to read another blog, or, perhaps you want them to buy the vegetables that you sell, the end result is the same — to “sell” the user on a specific action. By giving careful thought to exactly how each sentence is written you can lead the website visitor to your “goal.” Think of words on your website as they fit into a specific location in the sales funnel. Words that work: Click Here, Buy Now, Learn More.

The Digital Sales Funnel

The way you speak to someone who is in the “Top of the Funnel” (TOFU) stage (also called the Awareness stage) is very different from how you'll speak to someone who is further down the funnel. When someone is first becoming “aware” of a new product or service, they are typically seeking information and doing research. They are not typically ready to buy anything yet. If you can pinpoint what types of questions your audience has at these very different stages of the sales funnel, you can offer information to them and be helpful in a way that is not “salesy”.

For example, this particular article that you're reading right now is not a “TOFU” audience. In other words, it's more likely to attract a reader who already has a blog or a website. Perhaps you are seeking ways to get more traffic to your website or better ways to convert your visitors into paying customers…that is the audience that this particular article is written for. You're in the consideration stage, the MOFU (middle of the funnel). In this stage, you already recognize that you have a problem (you need to convert your website visitors into customers). My goal is to give you a deeper understanding of exactly how to structure your writing so that you can start to guide your website's visitors toward a conversion. Whether that is to join your email list, to download a freebie, to take a quiz, or to book an appointment with you, your words are what turn a website visitor into a loyal fan and eventually, a paying customer. This process of matching up your intended target customer (your “Avatar”) to the exact phase of the sales funnel that a particular article caters to is called: “Journey Mapping.”

Every word on your website should have a purpose. By using clear language, you can effectively direct people to exactly what you want them to do next. A website is not a research paper, if you use overly technical language, it becomes confusing to the majority of the visitors.

To get the most value from each of your visitors, focus on using simple, descriptive words, proper grammar, and clear instructions. Avoid phrases that contain jargon or industry-specific terms unless they are totally necessary. Would you rather buy “locally grown, organic vegetables” or “vegetables grown under biodynamic farming principles which have a greater focus on astrological cycles and the idea of the farm as a single organism”?

2. Establish your Tone.

Should you take a formal tone? Comical? Sarcastic? Whether your site covers a serious topic or more playful subject matter, the most effective choice is to write in a conversational but slightly formal tone. If your tone is too formal, it can sound too academic, yet if it’s too playful, you can sound inexperienced. In fact, recent studies have shown that when browsing the internet, people pay extra attention to website content written in a conversational tone. It is important to note, however, that writing in a conversational tone does not mean using profanity or using poor vocabulary.

Some websites speak conversationally with a light tone, while others cater to a very formal tone. The voice you establish through your words should match your brand image and remain consistent across all channels. If you are fun and eccentric on Facebook and Twitter, then that same tone should carry across your website. Catering to academia? That website structure would likely be a bit more formal.

Choosing the right words to showcase your brand in the best light is something that many website owners struggle with. The great part about writing, though, it that you have time to look back over your work to make sure your words engage and connect your audience exactly the way you intend to. You don’t necessarily need a professional copy-editor as long as you follow these guidelines.

3. Should you use rhetoric?

The most important factor is to engage your audience. Using rhetoric (asking questions) is a great way to encourage people to participate. In other words, get your readers thinking about what they would do instead of passively absorbing (or not absorbing) the information you are presenting. Remember, you are speaking to and creating a connection with users; personal pronouns are good option.

4. Edit, edit, edit!

Nothing can make or break your website like good editing. Every word needs to be read and reread until it makes sense, is grammatically correct, and without error. Painting a picture with words and images works wonders, but if you have errors in sentence structure or spelling, your visuals will be overlooked instead of completing the package.

Make sure to keep things simple. It is much more effective to be succinct and leave out technical or industry language. Think about it, we rarely use complex vocabulary in everyday conversation, so keep the main copy easy to read and extrapolate only for the most technical information.

Email Nurturing

While people don't always give much thought to writing emails when they're thinking about starting a blog, if you want to make money from your blog, it's important to approach email automation and writing emails in much the same way as you would write copy for your website. Talking to your audience in the same tone that you convey on your website will establish consistency in your brand. I recommend reading this article on Email Automation for more information on why a “newsletter” is not necessarily the best way to convert your list into revenue.

Want to get your hands on 45 Email Templates that you can Copy and Paste? Check out the Free Download: What to Write in Your Emails from my affiliate partner, AWeber. Even if you haven't even started your blog yet, you'll eventually need to consider a good email automation solution that integrates well with your new blog. I highly recommend Aweber.

What to Write in Your Emails

Still feel like you need some expert help with writing your copy? Check out FunnelScripts, a cloud-based software program you can use to generate thousands of headlines and copy that can be used inside your website, emails, and even print collateral.

FunnelScripts Affiliate Partner

How to Write for Conversions

The Importance of Building an Organic Email List

What list? Why do I need an email list and how do I start one?

Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.

Maybe you’ve been hearing about how a lot of people make money with digital marketing, but you're wondering where exactly to begin. Perhaps you have a business, or even a hobby and you’ve got a product or service that you know people will be interested in…if you could just get the message out to the right people. There’s a nîche. There’s a specific and unique group of people all over the world who can benefit from what you have to offer, it’s just a matter of finding them and connecting with them. The right way to build an email list is to let people add themselves to your email list because they choose to, not because you choose to.

Part 1: Credibility of your Brand

Before you can even think about running a successful email campaign that will generate revenue for your business, you’ve got to begin with a list of people who actually want to hear from you. You might be thinking, “yes, there are people are out there, but where and how am I going to find them?” The first step in building a list of people who want to hear from you is called ‘inbound’ marketing, and it simply means collecting the contact information of people who show interest in your product or service.

In order to get the word out and educate people about your product or service so that you can be deemed trustworthy and credible, you’ve got to first demonstrate that your product or service is valuable to people without the expectation of anything in return. The most common way to do this is to make sure your website is up to date with current information, and to write and post more in-depth educational articles on your blog or resources page. Creating quality content around your topic is the key to growing your subscribers, follower, list, and ultimately your tribe. Be sure that your online presence is real. In other words, I’ve seen so many websites that post articles by the “Admin” and that just screams “not a credible source” to anyone who is reading it.

I’ve also seen many websites that post a very short or generic write up about a product or service that really isn’t helpful or informative to the reader. Doing this is just an exercise in mediocrity and it’s not going to build brand credibility at all. Take the time and effort to think thoroughly about what you are writing about. How is what you’re offering going to change the life of your intended audience? In order to begin building credibility for why you are an authority on your topic, you’ve got to demonstrate that you have the knowledge, experience, or expertise to provide guidance on the topic. If you have no email list at all, you'll need to begin by writing a collection of blog articles about your product or service to help establish credibility for your brand online.

Part 2: The Lead Magnet: SEM

Once your website has enough information to demonstrate that you’re a credible source, the next item of business is to focus on creating a way to drive traffic to your website. Just because you have a beautiful website with a lot of information on it doesn’t mean people will just automatically start to find you. Many people have heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is one way to focus on bringing organic traffic to your website, however know that organic SEO is a LONG TERM STRATEGY and it doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, even with proper SEO in place, it can take weeks or even months to begin to generate traffic organically. In order to start driving traffic immediately, SEM (Search Engine Marketing) tactics come into play. Keep in mind that SEM is the paid form of SEO. SEM can include paid social media ads or paid network ads (such as Google Ads).

Engaging in one or both of these types of digital advertising will provide an influx of traffic to your website, but the most important thing to understand is that the purpose of using SEM for a Lead Magnet is not to generate revenue, it’s to generate traffic and build your email list. In order for SEM to be most effective, it’s important to design a campaign that has the distinct purpose of building a list of people who are interested in what you have to offer. Remember, this is only the first step. Simply driving more traffic to your website isn’t going to sell your product or service, so typically the Lead Magnet tactic is used to generate what we call “Marketing Qualified Leads” or people who have raised their hand and indicated that they have an interest in your product or service. This list of people requires “nurturing” because it’s most likely they are not quite ready to buy anything from you yet. Why? Because they are just starting to get to know you.

Think carefully about what you do when you hear about a product or service that is “new to you”. You simply “Google it” and read about it. You look at reviews, read some additional articles, and do some research online to see if that product or service is credible and meets your needs. People who are in this “research” phase are what marketers and salespeople refer to as the “Top of the Funnel” or the “Awareness” Phase of the sales funnel. They are in the beginning stages of educating themselves about your product or service, so they are interested…but not quite ready to purchase anything yet. This is a prime candidate for someone to join your email list. Why? Because if you have a well planned email campaign, you can persuade this person into buying your product or service over a competitor by using thoughtfully planned words, photos, and videos that are designed to move people into action. In the past, before the internet provided all this information at our fingertips, sales people were the ones tasked with the responsibility of educating consumers. Today, people are savvy and don’t really need salespeople; they take time to learn everything they can about a product or service online before they really consider buying it.

If you begin to form a list of hundreds or even thousands of people who are moderately interested in your product or service, you will be able to turn them into a paying customer with exactly the right information at the right time. But first, you’ve got to find those “moderately” interested people. Remember, they’re not ready to buy just yet. Based on the psychology of behavior, we know that a lead magnet will entice people to have a look at what you are offering. A lead magnet is defined as something valuable but free. You’ve got to make sure it’s valuable, because people will judge your brand based on whether the lead magnet actually helped them. Think about how you landed on this page. Is what you’re reading valuable? If it is, you’re probably still reading.

Think about your own product or service that you’re trying to market and sell. Is there something free you can offer people that will entice them to learn more about your brand? Once they “consume” your lead magnet, your “free advice”, they will either determine that what you have to say is credible and trustworthy or not. If it’s credible, they will likely be receptive to what you have to say during a future engagement. That future engagement might be an email coming to their inbox or another digital advertisement. The important thing to understand here is that the first engagement with your brand was enough to entice them. Probably not enough to make them purchase something immediately, but enough to hold their interest. This is the power of inbound social media marketing. This is how you begin to build a list of people who have an interest in your product or service. It’s also how you begin to group or segment your list into meaningful categories. For more information about creating the perfect Lead Magnet, watch this video:

Part 3: Trust

The reason why you need to segment and categorize your email list is because not every one of your customer’s cares about the same news you have to share at any given time. Think about the last time you took your car to the shop for service. Maybe you replaced 4 tires because if you didn’t it wouldn’t pass inspection. If the shop sends you an email about a sale on new tires a month after you just bought 4 new tires, you’re probably not going to be too interested in clicking on that email. It’s not relevant to you at this particular point in time, so it gets bypassed or deleted. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are not interested in that company, but when something isn’t relevant and the business didn’t take the time to acknowledge that, their email will not get opened, and it may even get deleted or unsubscribed from. You can see how important it is to ensure that what you are emailing is perfectly relevant to the person on the other end of the email. This affects your open rate. It affects the credibility of your brand, and it affects how much attention people will pay to your emails in the future.

With trust being a critical element, you can see how important it is to only send email to people who have genuinely requested it from you. If you purchase a list of people from an outside source or somehow “cold” email people, it’s likely your emails will get deleted or ignored, or worse, unsubscribed because these people are wondering why in the world you thought it was okay to email them in the first place. Don’t be that business. Don’t be the business that has diminished credibility in an instant because you emailed someone who didn’t specifically ask to receive your emails.

The exciting part about creating a Lead Magnet is that by doing so, you are beginning to build a community of people who trust you and deem that what you have to say is credible. Although they may be at the “top of the funnel” they are still somewhat interested in what you have to say. This creates an opportunity for you to begin a “Nurturing Process” which is just a fancy term that means a systematic way to lead them on a journey or path toward eventually purchasing your product or service. The Lead Magnet serves as the perfect way to begin collecting a list of names and email addresses of people who are interested in what you have to offer.

Action Item:

It’s time to start thinking about what you can use as a Lead Magnet to begin building your list. What is something valuable that you can provide to someone who might be interested in your product or service? Could it be a printable comparison chart, a worksheet, or an ebook? A “how-to” guide, a video tutorial, or even a sample of your product. Anything you can provide for free that is valuable can be your Lead Magnet. Think carefully about how you’ll promote your lead magnet. Remember the objective is only to collect a name and email address. Some large businesses use contests as a Lead Magnet. You can entice people to provide their email address in exchange for a chance to win something, but you’ve got to consider how that strategy will play out later. Can you firmly deliver on your commitment? How will that interest in winning lead to what you’ll ultimately try to sell them in the future?

Here is an example: Maybe you build raised garden beds for a living and your goal is to get people to purchase a raised garden bed with an irrigation system. Your lead magnet may be a video-tutorial on how to properly compost for your garden. You might promote this with a series of blogs written about composting and then offer a 4-minute video on building your own compost in exchange for someone’s email address. In that case, you’ll want to create a special “Landing Page” on your website which is aimed at doing one thing….getting people to watch that video. In order to watch the video, they will be asked to enter their email address. Remember, they are probably not yet interested in buying your raised garden bed with an irrigation system, because if they were, they would be on your main website seeking your telephone number to schedule an appointment.

The purpose of the Lead Magnet is to begin building a list of people who may potentially be interested in buying from you in the future.

What's Next after the Lead Magnet?

Once you've got your Lead Magnet all figured out, it's time to think about email automation. To learn more about automation and sending emails in a structured way, read: A Closer Look at Marketing Automation and Email Nurturing. I highly recommend using AWeber for your email automation, as it integrates very easily with WordPress and a variety of other website builders.

AWeber Email Marketing