Are you making this mistake with your side hustle?
Coaches, Consultants, Experts, Service Providers…listen up. This post will help you make sense out of the online business model. Whatever your passion is, whatever you’re good at, I’m living proof that you can monetize it online, but there’s a catch…you’ve got to follow the formula.
You’ve heard it before…
Take what you know.
Sell it for $2k or more.
Use a Facebook ad, a video, and an email sequence.
That’s the formula.
It’s really simple.
But, actually, it’s not that simple.
Easier said than done…
Because you might be thinking,
“What exactly is my offer?”
“Would anyone actually pay $2k, $5k, or even $10k for it?”
“That’s what I charge.”
“Well, I think that’s what I should charge.”
“But, nobody’s ever heard of me.”
“I don’t have an email list.”
“I have case studies but they’re not written up yet.”
“I don’t have a video for my business.”
“And syncing the software?”
“Exactly what software should I use?”
“What’s the difference between a Sales Page and my regular website?”
“What if I don’t even have a website yet?”
“Plus, what about ads?”
“I’m not sure if I can write the perfect email sequence.”
“And I’d rather not do phone calls, either.”
“Maybe I’ll buy a course.”
“Or try to find a freelancer to help me.”
I’ve got a better idea.
Read this first.
There are some important lessons to learn if you want to create a profitable online business.
How do I know this?
I worked in corporate marketing for a Fortune 500 for 10 years. I traveled around the U.S. to train regional marketing teams. After that, I worked for a digital agency for a few more years. When the sales guy at my agency invoiced a client $10,000 for a report that I wrote myself, I finally decided it was time to stop giving away my expertise for peanuts.
But…with that…I had to start over. I started at the same place where everyone starts when they're starting a new business…at the very beginning. So this is a culmination of advice that I both gave to clients of our agency, as well as garnered myself from starting over.
Lesson 1: What is Your Offer?
The very first step to monetization online is to get crystal clear about what exactly your offer is. Who do you serve? What is the problem that you solve? And most of all, why does it matter? In order to be successful with monetization online, you have to focus on the transformation you can provide for people. It doesn’t matter whether it’s crafting hair bows for gymnasts or writing paleo recipes, your focus has to be clear.
A lot of times people want to start a blog but they aren’t quite sure what they want to blog about because they have several different passions. While Lifestyle Bloggers can definitely monetize and become successful, the real key to monetization is to start with a narrow focus.
Are you making this mistake with your side hustle?
When you cover too many different topics, such as motherhood, kids, fashion, and email marketing, people will be confused about what it is that you are an expert in.
I often see women start off blogging about motherhood, and then all of a sudden they are an “expert” in SEO and they are selling a course on “how to start a blog”.
Listen, I don’t care what anyone else tells you…that isn’t a sustainable way for you to make a full-time income as a blogger. It will never happen. I’ve seen people fail, and fail again. You’ll be wasting your time with affiliate links to other blogger’s products that have nothing to do with your blog.
If you worked in marketing for the last 15 years then start a marketing blog, but if you didn’t, then stay in your lane.
Get out of comparisonville, don’t regurgitate other people’s blog posts, and get back in your lane.
Stick with what you know well.
If you're going to create a video or blog about a topic, make sure you have experience in that topic. Nobody wants to learn about how to grow a YouTube channel by someone who has 3 videos on their channel with 10 subscribers and 20 views.
I once clicked on a Pin on Pinterest which led to a blog article about advice on starting a YouTube channel. As I read through the article, I was becoming skeptical because the advice was counter-intuitive to what is being taught inside the mentorship program I belong to. (In case you didn't know, I'm a mentor inside of the private groups for YouTube Influencer Sunny Lenarduzzi's YouTube for Bosses and Authority Accelerator Programs).
We teach people how to be successful on YouTube.
But do some due diligence.
Check out my YouTube channel. It's not huge, but it's acceptable. If you like what you see, don't forget to subscribe while you're there.
So the moral of the story is….stick with what you know.
Don't try to be someone you're not.
Because that isn't going to give you a full time income.
Want to learn how to be successful with YouTube so that you can grow your biz like the real GirlBoss that you are? Start here:
Lesson 2: Your Purpose
Creating content is all about focusing on your purpose. Sometimes, bloggers can’t articulate their message, and this ultimately makes it harder to monetize.
Try thinking about this statement:
I help [specific person] to [specific problem you solve] so [specific result they want].
I help driven women entrepreneurs go from feeling stagnant in their business to standing out as leaders so they can fast-track more high-ticket clients and share their unique message with the world.
You definitely want your message to be high level, but also speak to a specific pain point that will get your audiences attention.
Make your purpose clear, specific and results-driven. Ultimately, you want to move people to take the next step in their journey.
Now, if you don’t already know this, your bottom line is highly dependent upon your ability to “do social media” correctly. What does that look like you’re saying to yourself, what exactly does it mean to “do it correctly?”
I think it’s easy to get so focused on building your product that you forget to build your audience. Before you can monetize, you need to have people to sell to. In other words, if you don’t have an email list or a very big social media following, you’ve got to work on that.
Monetization is twofold: it’s about creating your own digital product that will help move your audience closer to their goal, and also suggesting helpful products and services (affiliate links) that will also move your audience closer to their goal.
You can’t monetize your passion if you don’t have someone to sell to. Think about it this way, just because you put your product out there on your website doesn’t mean people are just going to start flocking to it. The social media fairies don’t work that way.
Plus, and this is important, here’s the reality: you’re probably not going to make a huge affiliate income on the day you publish your first affiliate link. People are not going to open up their wallet and buy something they’ve never heard of just because you recommended it in a blog post.
Is it possible to make an affiliate income the moment you hit “publish?” Of course people may read your post, get really into the product you’ve recommended, and buy it. But in my experience it hasn’t been an effective strategy and I wouldn’t rely on it.
And here’s the other thing you should know about affiliate income: it’s inconsistent. I wish affiliate links were a stable way to make an income, but the reality is that there is nothing truly stable about making money by promoting other people’s products. It’s not uncommon for a company to close down their affiliate program, change the terms, or go out of business altogether.
Lesson 3: Your Audience
Herein lies the final key to being successful with monetization. I’ll say it again because it’s so important: You can’t monetize your passion if you don’t have someone to sell to.
So even if you don’t have a product yet, you want to start building your audience from day one.
Regardless of what your background is, believe me, for the last 14 years I’ve been working with people from college educated to physicians to craftsman to students, and when it comes to online marketing and digital advertising, everyone is in the same boat. Your leadership, drive and ambition isn’t about your educational background, it is about your motivation to accelerate your business forward and that is what will make you successful.
Now there are ways to accelerate the process of building your audience. You can use paid ads to get in front of your exact target audience, but there’s a strategy that you need to follow to make it all come together.
Savvy shoppers are now what the Harvard Business review is calling “mobile supershoppers” they know just what they want and they know how to find it.
The question becomes, do you know how to market to them? The success of your online business in the 21st century depends on whether you know how to do it right.
Lets talk about value. Measuring and delivering what your consumer really wants, that is value.
When a customer evaluates a product or a service, they weigh it’s perceived value against it’s asking price, but zeroing in on what they REALLY value can be difficult, because psychologically it’s complicated.
How does that all play in to getting people to buy your product or service online? Well, to make your product valuable, it needs to contain 4 elements:
and provide social impact.
When optimally combined, these 4 elements will increase your customer loyalty and your revenue growth.
But if you’re clueless about the digital business model, tech integrations or how to connect online marketing back to revenue for your business, and nothing else has worked…
And you’re sick and tired of trying to do ALL.THE.THINGS.
Maybe it’s time to outsource the entire scope of the project to an expert with an unparalleled commitment to serving your needs.
Here’s an alternative option for a very limited time…I currently host a Free, private Facebook group where you can ask questions, get solid advice, support, and collaborate with other social media influencers, bloggers, and online entrepreneurs. In early 2020, I will be changing this group from free to paid, so if you would like to get in now, for free, click here to join! Once I officially launch my Masterclass Series, I will only be inviting those who have paid for the course. Why? Because it takes time to answer questions of course and I can’t keep working for free! 🙂 Join now!!
On another note, here’s my best advice for Small Business Owners: Start with a digital audit. I can do a mini-audit of your website and social channels, and then plan a time to talk it over with you, one-on-one in a 1-hour or 2-hour session. I also offer a full-scale digital audit which provides you with a written, step-by-step Action Plan tailored to your business model to help you get you where you’re going. You can implement the plan yourself, hire us to do it for you, or seek out freelance services yourself using Upwork, Fiverr, or Bark.
When you have a written plan, you’ll know exactly what you need to do, and perhaps most importantly, how to communicate it properly in the right ‘industry lingo’ so that you, someone on your team, or a hired freelancer can get it done quickly and efficiently.
4 Top Email Marketing Strategies to Skyrocket Leads!
Email list subscribers (ie: potential customers) think about your brand as a whole, and they’re not just thinking about how cool your emails look. In fact, even if it's only subconsciously, with every email you send (automated or not) they’re considering your products and how you communicate with them, as well as your style, tone, and mood.
If you want your email automation to be superior, you've got to think about and plan out the entire experience.
So let’s be real, getting someone to hand over their email address is not easy, it doesn’t matter if you’re a corporation or a small business. People are savvy researchers these days, and I too have had my fair share of “firstname.lastname@example.org” email addresses show up on my list, just to get the free content that I’m giving away.
The pure excitement of clicking “Publish” on your newest blog post still doesn’t take away that sinking feeling of seeing someone opt-in to download your freebie only to unsubscribe instantly.
All that work you put in to creating something educational and beautiful.
It sucks, but it happens.
Here’s the honest truth, you can never prevent that from happening all together, but what you can do is give people a reason to want to soak up everything you have to offer. Your overall email marketing strategy, including the bulk email marketing software that you use to send from are a critical piece of getting it right.
Email Newsletters…Not Vogue!
In the past, and still today, many companies send an email newsletter every week (or every month) because they assume people on their list wanted to know about everything that is going on at their company. Newsflash…that isn’t true!
Think about the last time a company you did business with 2 years ago sent you an email. If you’re even still subscribed to that email list, were you interested enough to open it and read everything in there? Probably not.
But what if that same company sent you an email about one specific topic that was relative to the exact product you purchased? For example “your item was recalled, click here to see what we’re doing about it.” You would be much more likely to keep reading or click through to see what they have to say.
Strategies for Growing Your Email Marketing ROI
The strategies for growing an email list are fairly black and white, but if you want to step up your game, there are some tactics that absolutely work and there are some that don’t.
My biggest mistake when I created my first free opt-in was that it was too complex. It's because I had a background in digital marketing and came from an agency job where day in and day out I spoke to people (and customers) who already understood the language.
Talking about a tactic like “Schema Markup” or “Consideration Stage Lead Magnet” didn't resonate with my blog audience because they weren't marketers.
But that was back in 2011, and I’ve honed in on the art of teaching email marketing ever since, and found a way to teach these tactics that are the absolute cornerstone of list-building. One simple but effective tactic has grown my list and the lists of my clients by leaps and bounds. In fact, I now gain about 600 new organic subscribers each week.
Six-Hundred each week.
I'm not kidding. If you're just starting out with list-building, 600 new subscribers a week sounds like a dream come true, right?
Before I jump in though, lets get clear, these are foundational strategies, not tips and tricks.
Tips and tricks are temporary, while strategies last for the long haul. Email marketing automation can be a huge, powerful, big deal with a lot of complex moving parts.
Luckily, getting started is fairly straightforward if you follow the right advice.
In fact, the only thing you actually need to do to get started is click this one button. (But before you do, please finish reading).
Attraction Marketing: The Foundation of Email Marketing Automation
The best digital marketing practice is to create long-term strategies that have been shown to be effective over and over again. This begins with attracting the right audience.
Here are 4 ways to implement genuine “attraction marketing” in other words…to make people crave your content, look forward to when you publish something new, and thus make them want to be on your list, part of your audience, and follow you on every social channel that you’re on.
1. Use an Interactive Quiz as your Email Opt-In (aka: Lead Magnet)
This one small thing has been wildly successful in terms of attracting new members to my audience, and it's the absolute cornerstone of good segmentation so that you can group your subscribers into the proper email nurturing sequence. At first glance it doesn’t seem to be an “opt-in” but as you guide your audience through a series of questions, it’s a fantastic way to group them into meaningful categories that you can actually nurture.
Not to mention, it’s a super fun way to engage. Don’t let the cost scare you, it’s well worth it. Just divide the annual cost by the amount of true, engaged people on your email list and you’ll see there is no comparison!
To use this quiz effectively, I ask questions such as “what phase of business are you currently in” and let them select answers such as:
“I’m just thinking about starting my online business” or “I’m currently blogging but not seeing much success.”
These are very different in terms of how you would help guide this person through to an eventual offer, even though both are interested in the same general niche of blogging to make money.
If you’re thinking about using a quiz, I would recommend checking out the Interact Quiz Builder. You can use their quiz templates to easily get up and running in a matter of minutes, or you can change the questions to anything you like.
The best part is that they integrate with any email marketing automation that you already use, and their metrics provide a really good overview (even better than Google Analytics) at grouping your audience.
I use tags in my email automation to funnel people into different categories, but even if I didn’t, I could go and download my list (already grouped) directly from Interact. If you are thinking about checking it out, click here for a free trial.
2. Grow your Organic Followers using the “Polite” Popup
Stay with me for a moment, I hate popups too. I’m always met with a lot of resistance when talking about popups because I know they are annoying and disruptive. But I challenge you to think about this in a new way.
As someone is reading through your site, a little while later, a sleek and slow window appears on the side and it’s just a follow request. You’re not hitting them smack in the center of the face asking for their email address. If this sounds interesting to you, use this WordPress plugin. It’s a great way to increase your followers organically on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or even YouTube.
If you want to use great email automation and list segmentation, you’ll need to have greater data. Both of these tools listed above help you segment the answers to the questions so you can really nurture your list. You won’t be able to use the powerful email marketing automation features unless your list is grouped into different segments.
When planning and setting a goal for your email campaign, ask yourself these 6 important questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
Consider demographics, make sure what you’re saying is relevant to those receiving the email.
Clicks and Opens are not an appropriate primary goal. Marketers measure clicks and opens, but they are indicators and metrics of success, they should not be the primary goal of the email. Your primary goal should be “Register for our Webinar” or “Download our Toolkit.”
We’re not talking only about the time of day or the day of the week; consider where the recipients of this email is on their journey to purchase. Some people have just started researching ideas, such as “best time of year to buy a grill” while others have already decided to buy and are researching features & benefits of a gas grill compared to features & benefits a charcoal grill. Sending the right information to the right person at the wrong time is not going to translate to conversions. Thinking through exactly what you’re selling and when your buyer needs it is critical.
Where is your audience going to read your email? At their desktop in the office, on their phone during their lunch hour, or on an ipad while watching TV at night?
Why are you sending this message? Use this as a reality check, why does this campaign benefit the recipient?
How do you know if you’ve met your goals? Web traffic, twitter mentions, and a look at other channels can help you see how your campaign impacts behavior. Don’t forget to read between the lines; open and click-thru-rates may be terrible, but people may be logging into their account or calling customer service in response to your email.
3. Use Paid Ads to give away your Free Content
This sounds crazy. Am I right? Most of the time people create ads when they are selling their product or service, but I actually pay for ads to serve up my free stuff! To be fully transparent, I invest several hundred dollars a month using paid ads, but the ads are promoting my free lead magnets.
It’s a way that works well to invest in your followers in the very beginning, to make sure your audience is made up of people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Then you serve your audience so well so that when the time comes to sell to them, they have already qualified themselves as the perfect candidate to purchase.
If you’re familiar with the sales and nurturing process, you already know that most people aren’t immediately ready to buy anything, especially in this day and age of internet research.
Most of the time, people need to do their research and get warmed up before they are ready to buy anything, so running ads to your paid content is not going to be very successful. I've done it. Unless it's a gorgeous apparel item with a deeply discounted price, it simply does not work.
Would you click on something from a stranger and purchase without context or more information? Probably not! Instead, the best strategy is to place an ad that leads to free content with the goal of getting them on to your email list.
This technique is much more affordable than running ads that point directly to a purchase. The cost to acquire a new subscriber on your email list is a fraction of the cost of an ad that points directly to a sales page. It’s better to invest in serving up content (without the hint of a pitch) until you know the audience is engaged.
This is how you show trust and ultimately position yourself as the expert in what you’re talking about. Then when you have an offer, your audience is inclined to listen to what you have to say because they’ve had time to benefit from the free content that you’ve given to them.
At the end of the day, I will always spend money to acquire new people to my list over trying to run an ad to sell a product. I’m confident in my ability to serve my audience so well, that when the time comes to sell something, they are excited to become a bigger part of my community through the purchase of additional products, courses and services.
I’m just going to give it to your straight…
If learning about online business and email marketing automation feels like it’s draining you faster than your iPhone battery, then you’re not doing it right.
ConvertKit was designed to support your business so you can get on with doing the things you actually want to do.
Imagine…automated selling consistently without you having to spend hours and hours doing it!
Of course this isn’t just anything you’re selling…this is your dream job! What you’ve been dreaming about since you were stuck in that corporate cubicle trading all your time for a paycheck.
4. Exclusivity (Translation: Special Perks for your Email Subscribers)
It’s important to treat your community like insiders or VIPs. The people on your email list should be the first to know about anything new in your business. Not only that, they should be getting content that you don’t publish anywhere else.
Whether that is exclusive sales or other freebies, they will really feel like they are special if you don’t offer the same on your Facebook Ads or Twitter account.
Treat your email subscribers like gold, show them you truly value them, thank them, and let them know how much they mean to you. Too often, I’ve seen bloggers promote a sale all over their private Facebook group, on their email list, and then tweet about it and even run an ad. This doesn’t make subscribers feel like they are an insider at all.
Instead, offer your email subscribers something different, an additional discount code or access before you announce the sale publicly.
Keeping customers engaged with your business is crucial if you want them to remain loyal to your brand; it is also a critical step in helping you convert those leads into fully qualified customers. Having an automation system that literally makes money while you sleep needs to be well thought out.
Start by answering those 5 aforementioned questions. When you create marketing campaigns that intelligently follow up with the right people at the right time based on their actions and behaviors, it will be a true game changer for your business.
Providing great content is just not optional anymore; in fact, digital communications is just as important to your business as customer service. If you want to create and keep loyal customers, giving them great information and solving their problems is the key to your continued growth with email marketing automation.
Whether you're just getting started, or you're a veteran marketer looking to enhance your lead generation strategies, these 4 email marketing strategies are sure to yield big results for you in the year ahead!
For a preview of my favorite email marketing tools in action, watch this video!
Connect with other Bloggers, Social Media Influencers, and Online Entrepreneurs in my FREE Private Facebook Group!
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:
Design the offer
Nurture the leads
Make the offer
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.
When you send the same message to everyone…nobody listens.
Please note that some of the links included in this article are affiliate partner links. For more information, click here.
When a business or blogger has collected emails, whether by doing so with their opt-in, manually at a brick and mortar, or over a period of time as people have signed up for a service or product, a list that numbers in the hundreds, the thousands, or even the tens of thousands can sometimes seem overwhelming.
It’s not uncommon for bloggers and small business owners to have a large list but still be unsure just how to use email marketing and automation to generate revenue for their business. This was the exact case when I was recruited to assist a client who had a list of over 40,000 people, but an email open rate that was lower than 20%. (Quick backstory: I worked for a digital agency, and in corporate marketing for 14 years before I started my blog). Anyway, at the time, the owners of the company I worked for didn't quite understand how to convert those “people on their list” into a loyal audience who would open and read their emails, let alone turn them into paying customers.
When you have just one list of email subscribers, and they are not grouped into different categories, the key to unlocking revenue with email automation is to first solve the challenge of moving them into meaningful groups. Your very first step is to design a Segmentation Campaign; this is how you begin to group your list based on actionable behaviors that they take. What is an actionable behavior? In digital marketing, it's something you can measure…such as a click.
The Email Newsletter: Why So Many Bloggers and Small Business Owners Still Get it Wrong
Perhaps you’ve sent a campaign or two, or maybe you send a weekly or monthly newsletter to the subscribers of your blog or the customers in your business, and you have watched your “open rate” go down with each email you send. If your open rate is less than 60%, you’re in the right place to gain some insight. There is definitely a secret to getting people to open and read your email, and over the years I’ve watched as even the organizations and businesses that I want to hear from struggle to get it right.
The Segmentation Campaign
First and foremost, when you have a very large list, the first task is to clean it up and get it separated into meaningful categories. If this sounds tedious, all the more reason that you need to move it to the top of your to-do list. Why? Email marketing simply does not work when you send the same email to a large group of people.
Think about it this way, too many choices confuse people. Too many choices cause a person to close their browser and not even make a choice. You simply cannot connect with your audience in a meaningful way by sending the same email campaign to everyone; that will never generate revenue for your business.
In order to make a meaningful connection, you've got to deliver super-targeted information that over-delivers on value. Every, single, time! It's so important to clearly illustrate how your business, product, or service is going to solve a problem for your intended audience. But first…your audience needs to actually have a problem that you can solve! If the problem doesn't exist, guess what? They don't care if you can solve it. It comes down to choice: If you provide too many choices, it's just easier for the recipient to not make a choice and do nothing.
Email Marketing: Where Do I Begin?
Each email campaign that you send needs to have one of these 4 primary purposes:
This is a fancy industry term that means the purpose of the email is to introduce new connections to your brand; this is the time to bond with a brand new subscriber when they are the most excited to hear your message. People are the most excited the moment they enter their email address and sign up. Think about it. They are offering up their email address in exchange for something that they deem valuable (your Lead Magnet). A lot of businesses miss this unique opportunity to teach this new subscriber why you are amazing. Sometimes called the “welcome” email, know that it is the single time that a new subscriber is most likely to read what you have to say because they are expecting it.
The engagement campaign is the most widely used type of email marketing campaign, but it’s also where the most companies fail. The idea of the engagement campaign, and this is true whether it is done via email or on social media, is for a business to talk about what moves your potential customer. This could be very different for the different audiences within your broad audience. Remember, you’re not just “selling your product” you’ve got to make a meaningful connection with your customer and do it in a way that educates them about why your product or service will solve their problem and change their life for the better…and you’ve got to do that better than your competitor. You simply will not be able to engage with someone if you’re not speaking about something important to them.
Every email campaign and every post must have a purpose. What could be worse than posting something that isn't directly related to how your product or service benefits the consumer? Posting about, emailing them, or blogging about yourself!
Although it’s a time to begin to encourage your audience to buy what you have to offer by describing how it is relevant to them, the important thing to remember is that in order to be relevant, you’ve got to really dig deep into their beliefs, attitudes and desires. You’ve got to zero in on exactly what is important to them.
Consider this example: I once did some work for a professional who provided a service. He was certain that I was his “target audience”. (We are a family with two working parents, 2 kids and 2 pets). His rationale was that since both parents in the household worked, we therefore must have insurance to pay for medical services, so that makes us more likely to schedule an appointment regularly for a preventative visit. Another part of that rationale was that women heads of households make the family buying decisions, so his target market was women between the ages of 25 and 55. The reality is, that audience is way too broad. If you intend to make money with email marketing and your audience consists of a broad target market (such as “women between the ages of 25 and 55”) then it’s time to rethink your approach. There was no way that he was going to be able to make a meaningful connection with the “me’s” of the world, especially when he was using email to send me a newsletter to tell me about the latest award his practice won.
Can you see how important it is to get crystal clear about your audience? Gender and age group is far too broad to make a truly meaningful connection. Instead, look for a different way to engage. What does your target audience eat for breakfast and why? Do they wake up at 5:00am and go for a jog in their neighborhood before they feed their cat and clean the litterbox? Where do they work, shop, vacation, and what kind of car do they drive?
If you really know who your customer is you can tailor an email campaign that engages with them on an incredibly personal level. Even though the recipient of your email may not know you personally, they can read into everything you write about, and the tone of that written word strikes a subconscious chord. If you can use words to talk to the recipient of your email as if you’re talking to your very best friend about how your product or service will make life better for them, then their interpretation will no doubt be positive.
In turn, their view of your brand will be positive. My pet peeve to this day is reading an email that says something like “I’m so proud to be awarded the honor of the top “insert whatever profession you want” under the age of 40 in my hometown.” Really? I mean, kudos to you Mr. Award Recipient. Go ahead and post it on your social media feed, but don't expect that emailing that information to me is going to move me to buy something or schedule an appointment.
What I’m trying to say here is that you can control the interpretation of the person receiving your email and truly engage with them by providing a meaningful connection about how your product or service benefits them…not by touting your own horn.
The ascension campaign comes after a successful engagement campaign, and only once you’ve started to measure the behaviors of your email recipients. Asking a client to upgrade their experience is where the big money happens, but they first need to trust your brand and have had an experience with you that over-delivers. Once you’ve made one sale, you know what your customer is interested in, so now you know exactly what your customer is likely to want or need to do next. If a customer just used your app to make a donation to their favorite cause, the next step is to say “Thanks for donating, would you like to start a fundraising campaign of your own?” Think about how the big companies use this strategy: Facebook has a strategically placed button on business pages that says “Create a Business Page” and that is not by accident.
The ascension campaign directly correlates to the most important part of email marketing…the segmentation. Dividing up your customer or potential customer list into meaningful categories and then capitalizing on what you now know about them is the key to a successful ascension campaign.
I can’t stress how important it is for every business who wants to succeed with digital marketing to learn what your audience likes and dislikes by measuring their behaviors so you can follow-up with anticipatory practicality about what they will want to do next. If you send someone an email and they do not click on the link, for the love of all things do not simply send them the same type of email again.
If they did not click, it means they were not interested! You can dig deeper into why they may not have been interested and create a different campaign to re-engage, but that comes later. First you’ve got to ensure you have your campaign set up in a way that can accurately measure and make sense of the data that is being measured. You’ve got to know what you’re looking for. How do you know what you’re looking for in terms of measurement and data?
Lets look back to the Small Email List example where we talked about raw honey and essential oils. Suppose you have an email list with 4,000 people on it and you don’t have them “segmented”. The first goal is to separate the list into meaningful categories. You have reason to believe that more people are interested in essential oils than in raw honey, so you decide to focus on essential oils as your first campaign.
In this example, you decide to run a campaign in the summer since it's a good time to teach people how to use essential oils to make their own sunscreen, so that will be the focus of your first campaign. Since the goal of this email campaign is not to sell a product but instead to begin to segment your list, your “landing page” could be as simple as a blog post that instructs people about how to make their essential oils sunscreen. On the sidebar of the blog, you may choose to have a picture of a jar of honey which will serve as a call-to-action leading to purchase the honey. Don’t forget to attach a UTM Parameter to the link in the email so that you can effectively measure who from your email list clicked on the honey. At this point it doesn’t matter whether they purchased anything, what you are measuring and attempting to differentiate is who is interested in honey and who is not. From this email campaign, you can measure the following behaviors:
Who on your list is interested in the blog about making your own sunscreen (behavior: clicked the link within the email and landed on the blog page)?
Who on your list is potentially interested in both sunscreen and honey (behavior: clicked the CTA for honey on the sidebar)?
Who is not interested in sunscreen at all (those who did not click)?
As you can see, you have now segmented your one list into 3 different lists after sending this email campaign. You can almost instantaneously group them based on what they showed interest in. Now you know that you could potentially talk to list number 2 about the honey. Not only that, you could send an email a few hours or a day later educating them about the differences between raw honey and processed honey, or perhaps write a blog about how to store honey. They’ve already shown you they are interested in honey, so tuck away that information and think critically about how you will use it to market to them in the future.
Which leads effectively to the folks from your initial large list above who did not click, they did not show interest. That is the segment you’ll focus on with a “re-engagement” strategy.
Re-Engage & Win Back
If someone has fallen out of touch or stops opening your emails, the re-engagement strategy is used to create a way to entice them to come back before the relationship grows cold. This is the lowest of low hanging fruit; it’s the time to reinforce your value and re-engage. Many companies do not have a systematic process by which they manage weeding out the people who are genuinely interested from the people who are just “looking” for information.
You never want to email someone who did not click. The result is that you waste a lot of time and effort. There are times when I purchase a product online and then I begin to receive an email a day from that company. Even if I don’t click in the email, I start getting bombarded with more emails. Newsflash, I’m not that interested, why are you still sending me stuff I’m not even reading? Now the company has left a bad taste in my mouth. The worst of the worst is when I click to unsubscribe and they send me a message indicting that it might be a few days before I’m removed from their list. Companies can be fined for not following the law, according to the GDPR, the opt-out or “unsubscribe” link is very important in the grand scheme of things.
Don’t risk your email deliverability (in other words, the spam folder) because once you go down that road, it’s hard to recover. The last thing you want is for people to delete your emails and mark them as spam. Future emails will not make it to their inbox and you effectively decrease your chances of ever making a stream of revenue from email marketing.
Instead, if a prospect on your email list has not actively engaged with you for over 3 months (by actively engage, I’m talking about clicking a link in your email or actually purchasing something) then the best practice is to remove them from your email list. If you sent an email campaign and they did not engage, the re-engagement campaign can be sent any time between about 2 weeks and 3 months to test a “win back” strategy. You know that the people on this segmented list have no interest in sunscreen. Consider what else you might know about them. How did they get on your list in the first place? You might go back to basics and write a blog or provide a lead magnet that entices them to get to know you better.
Once you are crystal clear about what each segment is truly interested in, think about how you will appeal to them. How is your product or service going to absolutely hands down change their life for the better? HubSpot defines Lead Nurturing as the purposeful process of engaging a defined group of prospects by providing them with relevant information at each stage of their buyer journey. The goal is to create tactics that active move people through a sequence of events that is designed to move them from just interested to a paying customer. Attribution information (the data that you’re measuring about their behaviors) in other words, the pages they viewed and the content they downloaded will help tell you what stage of their “journey” they are in. Based on this information, you can design a nurturing strategy that talks to them about what is the most important to them.
Best Email Marketing Software for Bloggers and Small Biz: ConvertKit
For my nurturing sequences, I highly recommend ConvertKit (for Bloggers who are making from zero to $150,000 in annual revenue) and AWeber (for Small Business Owners making between $150,000 and $250,000 in annual revenue). They are both email marketing automation platforms that are easy to use and integrate well with a variety of different website builders.
ConvertKit is particularly easy to use for those who are new to blogging and email marketing. They have great customer support as well as video tutorials and even free email templates for nurturing sequences to help you get started quickly! The difference is that with ConvertKit, things just make sense. Some email marketing systems are clunky and hard to figure out the integrations, but ConvertKit will definitely be your BFF because the internal dashboard functions a lot like HubSpot in that it makes everything obvious…but doesn't have the big price tag like HubSpot!
HubSpot for Business making between $250k and $5Million
If you are a business owner with annual revenue between $250,000 and $5 million, then I highly recommend checking out HubSpot. HubSpot is an all-in-one platform, and is a treasure-trove of valuable tools to streamline your marketing automation and sequencing. It's kind of like InfusionSoft functionality in a much more user-centric dashboard (like ConvertKit) but much more modern and easy-to-use than InfusionSoft. Oh, and it has about 40 more bells and whistles too!
Remember, segmented email campaigns have an open rate that is 14.32% higher than non-segmented campaigns.
Wondering why you aren't getting good results with your online advertising efforts?
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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.
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 also 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 revenue generating ad campaign:
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.
This above is just one small example of how a blogger or 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 using a free online tool that can really ignite your copywriting. A Free Headline Generator 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.
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 a site such as PixiStock or GirlBoss.
Once you've got the perfect image to capture your audience's attention, use a free tool such as Canva.com.
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 your audience (in other words, grouping them into meaningful categories) 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).
So…now that you've got the perfect Ad Campaign…What's Next?
Now that you've got your ad completed and ready to launch, it's important to remember that your audience needs to land on a sales page that is specifically designed to entice them to do something. Either sign up for your list or buy something…because lets face it, why would you pay to run an online ad if you're not ready for them to take the next step? If you don't have a way to follow up, your ad simply will not be effective, and that's where email marketing automation comes in.
My favorite tool for Email Marketing Automation for bloggers and small business owners is ConvertKit. It's easy and intuitive to use, and does a far better job than MailChimp. When you're first starting out, MailChimp seems like a great idea, but it's much more efficient to invest a small amount of money into a tool that will truly take your business to the next level!
I started out by using MailChimp back in 2006, but even as technology has progressed, their system for tagging is still not as intuitive as it should be. I recommend ConvertKit for solopreneurs and small business owners making between zero and $250,000 in annual revenue.
If your business is grossing between $250,000 and $5 million in annual revenue, then I highly recommend checking out HubSpot. It's a CRM and comprehensive marketing automation platform all-in-one. While this tool is the cream of the crop in terms of marketing automation for small business, the cost is $10,000 a year payable up-front, which is why it's a tool that is better suited to established small business and enterprise companies. To claim a 30-Day Free Trial, click here.
Looking for more expert tips and guidance with digital marketing? Sign up for my FREE Email Masterclass. I'll send you an email a day for 5-days that is designed to teach you how digital agencies set up campaigns to sell online products and services for their customers. Blog to Biz: Email Masterclass – Learn More!