Category Archives for "Internet Marketing Strategy"

My Revealing Vacation Photos…

It was a sultry August morning on Florida’s Space Coast.

My daughter and I, neither one of us morning people, dragged ourselves out of bed to take sunrise photos on the beach.

The sunrise was a stunner. As the bright orange globe slowly emerged from the ocean on the horizon, pelicans and gulls glided through the air, dolphins played in the surf and tarpon leaped out of the water through schools of bait fish so large they turned the water black.

With so much activity and so much beauty around, it’s hard to know where to focus.

And then I looked down.

As soon as I did, I stopped in my tracks.

The beach was covered with a pattern I immediately recognized (yet, even with a degree a marine biology, had never noticed on the beach before!).

It’s a pattern so common in nature, most of us don’t even think about it, let alone understand its true power and significance.

And it’s a pattern that, once understood, also holds important clues about what an effective marketing campaign looks like. (In fact, seeing this pattern on the beach led to a breakthrough in my thinking about a new project/business plan I’ve been working on.)

Here’s what I saw that morning (you can click to enlarge)…

branching beach 2

(Photo courtesy of my daughter!)

 

Do you recognize this branching pattern?

Miniscule branches leading to tiny branches leading to slightly bigger branches leading to bigger and bigger branches.

On this section of the beach, it’s the pattern the water on the shore takes as it fights its way back to reunite with the ocean.

It’s the same pattern you’ll see in the root system of plants, in river systems and in our pulmonary/circulatory/nervous systems.

It’s a pattern you’ll see in manmade systems as well. Think of our systems of roads where small side streets feed into local roads which feed into main thoroughfares which feed into the major highways.

Why is this pattern so pervasive in both natural and manmade systems?

Well, because it’s so damn efficient and effective!

If a tree just had one big root, it would quickly deplete the nutrients and water in the soil immediately surrounding it. But by branching out, the roots and tiny root hairs reach a much wider area and have more surface area available to extract nutrients and water from the soil and funnel them to feed the plant.

But this article ain’t a lesson in botany. It’s a lesson in marketing.

Hopefully you already see the implications this branching pattern has for marketing.

I talk a lot about diversification and how important it is to not rely on just one marketing channel and/or source of traffic. Because if that one source gets cut off, it’s gonna starve your business.

PPC, SEO, email marketing, social media, direct mail, newsletters, print advertising and more are all branches reaching out from your business with the purpose of feeding leads into your sales funnel. Yes, some will be more effective and carry more of the load than others (there’s a whole 80/20 aspect to all of this by the way, but we’re gonna leave that aside for now) but all play a role in feeding the funnel.

And you can (and should) go deeper with the branching in each of those marketing channels.

Let’s examine PPC. Under the PPC umbrella you have the branches of the different PPC platforms like Google AdWords and Bing Ads.

Under AdWords, you have branches for the different types of campaigns you can run… Search, Display, and Video.

Then you dig deeper into Search and you have branches for all the keywords in your campaign that are out there to attract your ideal prospects and feed them back up into your funnel.

Even within keywords you can branch out further. You’ll have your “core” keywords – individual keywords that, by themselves, get a decent volume of traffic. Think of a keyword like “Chicago plumber”.

But then you have the long tail keywords like “best plumbing company in the Chicago Loop” or “need a plumber to fix a leaky faucet”. These keywords are like the root hairs. Individually they don’t get much action. But when you add the effect of thousands or millions of keywords/root hairs together they have a major impact on feeding your business/a plant.

Let’s go back to that pattern I saw on the beach for a minute.

branching beach

I’ve been testing a new business model that involves SEO. The importance of the long tail keywords when it comes to SEO is a big deal (even bigger than it is in AdWords). It’s much easier to rank your website for long tail keywords than it is to rank for the main, core keywords all your competitors are also gunning for. So a lot of SEO these days rightly focuses on driving traffic through the long tail.

But that strategy doesn’t work as well for this new business model (which I’m not ready to talk much about yet… but will in the months to come). When I saw those patterns on the beach, however, I had an epiphany.

The epiphany was that the branching pattern for SEO is not just about keywords. It’s also about developing multiple web properties.

See, most SEO revolves around getting one website to rank. Yes, you can have lots of pages on your website – each (at least should be) focused on different keywords – but it’s still just one website.

But you can also have that branching pattern work to feed your lead flow by developing multiple web properties. Think mini sites, Web2.0 properties, videos and more.

Then, not only do you have multiple keywords feeding prospects into your business, but you have multiple web properties targeting multiple keywords feeding them in.

And that, my friends, is MUCH more powerful than focusing all your SEO efforts on just one website. With this strategy the multiple branches (ie. web properties) give you the opportunity to dominate the search results and win the lion’s share of the organic search leads.

As I said before, this branching pattern is so common cuz it’s so damn effective and efficient.

So take some time to think about the additional branches you can stick out there to feed more prospects into your marketing funnel. You could do worse than to follow Mother Nature’s lead in building your business!

Oh, and if you read this article with the hope of seeing some revealing beach photos, sorry to disappoint you. Hopefully you’ll settle for some of the sunrise pics I captured instead…

Canoe Sunrise

phone sunrise_edited-1

 

Without This One Thing, Nobody Buys

Last month we discussed why there are no basements in Oklahoma and the incredible importance of proof in your marketing.

Proof is the missing ingredient on so many websites (and other marketing pieces) that makes the difference between a successful marketing campaign and one that bombs.

Put quite simply… without belief, nobody buys.

If your prospects don’t trust you… if they don’t think your claims are credible… if you come across as being too hypey… they ain’t buying!

I have conversations all the time with clients about the importance of proof. And the conversation always starts out the same way.

I make the suggestions that we need to add more proof to the site, ad, etc.

They respond, “Okay, we’ll add some more testimonials.”

Now, yes, testimonials are a good form of proof. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

If all you’re doing is offering testimonials, it’s not enough. There are a boatload of other ways to add proof to your site. And, this month, we’re going to look at 12 of them.

1. Strong Guarantee

A strong guarantee may be one of the most powerful weapons you can use in your marketing arsenal. And, by strong, I mean one that is a step above what the competition offers.

In more and more industries a money back guarantee is pretty much expected. What we’re talking about here is a guarantee that your competitors don’t have the guts to offer and one that, quite frankly, makes you a little queasy to put out there.

A strong guarantee qualifies as proof because it shows how much you believe in your product/service. In fact, for a new business that doesn’t have much in the way of the other forms of proof listed below, a guarantee may be one of the only forms of proof you’ve got.

2. Demonstration

Copywriting legend Claude Hopkins put it this way…

“No argument in the world can ever compare with one dramatic demonstration.”

Remember the old Timex ads with the slogan “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking”? They tortured their watches to show how much of a beating they could take yet still keep telling time. Those ads took Timex from relative obscurity to the best selling watch around.

Don’t just tell your prospects about the benefits of your products and services… SHOW them.

Sell software? Have a screen capture video that shows exactly what it’s like to use your software.

Have a Membership site? Again, use a screen capture video that gives a behind-the-scenes view of the site so people see exactly what it’s like to be a member.

Are you a Consultant? Offer prospects a video or audio recording that shows what one of your consulting sessions is like.

Service professional? Show how you handle service calls and the checklist your employees go through to make sure the job’s done right.

Sell a product? The infomercial world is built upon demonstrating what it’s like to use their products. You can create your own mini-infomercial that you put on your website and YouTube.

Think of how you can demonstrate what your product or service will actually do for your prospects. It may very well be the best marketing angle you can take.

3. Specifics

We all fall into the generalities trap:

  • “We’ve helped hundreds of customers save money.”
  • “We’re the best at…”
  • “We have a high rate of success in…”
  • “Our quality control process is second to none…”

Those kinds of claims don’t carry much weight. But put some specifics into them and you change the game.

  • “To date, we’ve helped 973 customers save an average of $1,239 a year.”
  • “Over the past 4 years, we’ve been ranked as the #1 widget builder in an independent survey of customers in our industry.”
  • “We’ve had successful outcomes for 98.3{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of the 4234 customers that have come to us in the past 15 months.”
  • “We’ve only had 1 error in the last 13,234 calls we’ve handled (which is 5.6x better than the industry average)…

When you back up your claims with specifics, your claims become more tangible and believable to prospects. And that makes specifics another powerful weapon in your “proof” arsenal. (And, by the way, the more specific your testimonials have in them, the more powerful they are.)

4. Media

Media attention and publicity provides instant credibility to you and your business.

On websites these days, it’s fairly common to see the “Media Wall” which shows off the logos of every TV station, newspaper, magazine, etc. that a company has been featured on/in.

If you get media coverage, be sure to embed and/or link to the interview, press release, story, etc. on your site.

Yes, media coverage can do a great job at giving you a short term spike of traffic and sales.

However, over the long term, featuring past media appearances on your site provides instant proof that your company is doing something interesting/worth talking about. And that can provide the extra credibility prospects need to do business with you as opposed to one of your less media savvy competitors.

5. Specialization

If your kid gets sick and complains that her ear hurts, would you take her to a dermatologist or a pediatrician?

Nope. Not a trick question. You’d obviously pick the pediatrician because they specialize in taking care of sick children.

Specialized training and/or expertise in a specific segment of a market bring added proof and credibility to the table.

So instead of being another accountant, you’re the accountant that specializes in helping chiropractors.

Instead of being another sales coach, you’re the sales coach that helps senior level sales executives at manufacturing companies with $15 million or more in revenue.

You may very well find being a big fish in a smaller pond, combined with the credibility you get by being a specialist, is exactly what you need to take your sales to the next level.

6. Accolades/Awards

Have you and/or your business won any awards? Have you gotten any special recognition for the work you do?

If you have, don’t hide it from your prospects! Shout it from the rooftops (or at least feature it prominently on your website and marketing materials!).

Awards from 3rd party organizations that recognize your excellence for what you do provides a big credibility bump to the claims you make so be sure you highlight them.

7. Admitting Faults

Candor and honesty can go a long way to establishing your credibility.

Point out a potential drawback of your product/service, tell prospects that it may not be for everyone, understate your claims.

This may seem counterintuitive, but it can generate a lot of goodwill and trust with your prospects.

So try admitting some faults and see if it gives you a bump in conversions.

8. Studies/Research

Have there been any research or studies that support the claims you make/back up the benefits of the product/service you offer?

Citing research from well known universities, organizations, etc. can give your product/service a nice credibility bump.

For example, let’s say you sell a new type of eyeglass lens that provides clearer, sharper vision and the technology was developed by some researchers at Harvard University. Mentioning “developed by researchers at Harvard” in your marketing for the lens will give them more credibility in the, well, eyes, of your prospects.

Research from 3rd parties will help prove your case more effectively than you trying to toot your own horn.

9. Noteworthy Clients

This is similar to media appearances, but uses existing clients as proof. If you’ve worked with big, notable, respected companies, you can feature their logos on your website (provided you have their permission of course!) to demonstrate your credibility.

Basically you’re conveying the idea that if these other companies have trusted our products/services, then your prospects should too!

10. Scarcity

Scarcity is one of Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion.

When people perceive the availability of an offer is limited (by time, supply, etc.) it will increase demand.

It also demonstrates proof. When you have (truthful) reasons why you have a limited supply of your product/service, it gives the perception that it’s a popular product/service and it must be good.

11. Social Media Proof

Social Proof is another one of Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. And social media is a great way to demonstrate social proof for your company online.

Highlighting a large number of followers, retweets, connections, mentions, reviews, etc. you have across various social media sites demonstrates popularity. It shows that other people like what you’re doing and validates your product/service.

There’s safety in numbers and when a prospect sees that they’d be in good company by using your product/service, it can provide them the shortcut/cover they need to make the decision to use you.

12. The Reason Why

You have to give prospects a reason why they should buy from you. Part of that is to give them a reason why to believe the claims you’re making.

Providing that reason why can take a boring, ho-hum kind of claim and give it some teeth that’ll provide the extra proof a prospect needs to pull out their wallet.

So it’s not “we’re having a sale this weekend”, it’s “we’re having a sale this weekend because our supplier sent us 50{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} more widgets than we ordered and we’re trying to get rid of them quickly.”

It’s not that “our widget is better than the competition’s”, it’s “our widget is better than the competition’s because of our patented manufacturing process that makes it 57{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} stronger…”

Give prospects a reason why to believe the claims you make to help prove your case.

Profiting With Proof

Making claims on your site that aren’t backed up by proof can come off as gimmicky, insincere, or worse… all hype but no substance.

As I said at the top… without belief, nobody buys.

You now have 12 ways to provide belief (in addition to testimonials). Pick a few, put them on your site and prosper!

The Surprising Reason There Ain’t No Basements in Oklahoma

Go into a house in Kansas and odds are you’ll find a basement.

But cross the border into Oklahoma – just a few miles away – and not so much. In fact, according to an interview I heard on the radio the other week, just 3{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of houses in Oklahoma have basements.

Now that stat in and of itself isn’t all that interesting. But what IS really interesting is WHY there are so few basements in Oklahoma.

(And, stick with me, because this all leads to something you’ve gotta understand about human nature and marketing!)

Back to Oklahoma first though…

There used to be a good reason for not building basements there. The high water table and clay soil made it difficult to do… back in the 40s or 50s.

But technology, particularly waterproofing technology, has made those issues largely irrelevant for quite some time. Yet the mindset that you can’t build a basement in Oklahoma still persists.

Here’s where things get interesting…

If you know much about Oklahoma, it’s located in the epicenter of “Tornado Alley”, an area of the US known for its frequent and violent twisters.

And, if you know much about tornados, you know that when one’s headed your way, the basement is the safest place to be. Getting to a basement may very well save your life.

Knowing this, the State of Oklahoma is very much in favor of its residents having basements and offers a government subsidy to help people pay for building basements and/or underground storm shelters.

So basically if you live in Oklahoma you can get free money to build something that could potentially save your and your family’s life.

Sounds like something residents would be falling over each other to take advantage of, right?

Well, the basement contractor, Mike, interviewed for the story talked about the huge tornado that hit the city of Moore, OK in 2013 and damaged over 8000 homes and structures. This was a horrific 1.3 mile wide twister with 210 mile per hour winds that killed 25, injured 377 and caused an estimated $2 billion in damages.

After that storm hit, this basement contractor said he got exactly 2 phone calls from people interested in adding a basement to their homes and landed 1 job.

The interviewer asked Mike why more people don’t build basements in Oklahoma. His answer is fascinating and is very relevant to how you market your business.

What Mike said is that there’s a mindset in Oklahoma when it comes to basements that’s very hard to break. Most people in the state have it in their heads that you can’t build basements there and, to paraphrase what Mike says…

If everyone says no, then that must be the way it is. It’s easier to take other people’s word for it then to do the research yourself. It’s’ easier to go with the crowd vs. against the crowd.

And this gets right to the heart of why I wanted to share this with you. Because it gets to the heart of how many people (your prospects included) really make decisions.

These days most people don’t like, or are too busy, to do much research.

Most people put A LOT of credibility into the beliefs, opinions and recommendations of others.

Most people don’t want to make decisions that would put them in the minority.

And that leads us to a topic we’ve talked about here before and one I see becoming a bigger and bigger deal all the time…

PROOF.

I’ve got a good friend, really sharp marketer, who specializes in building websites and doing SEO for attorneys. He recently did an audit of dozens of attorney websites. What he was specifically looking for were the differences between the sites that generate a good flow of calls and leads for the attorney and the ones that don’t.

He looked at dozens of factors and there was one that had a correlation to the number of leads the site generated.

PROOF.

The websites that had more proof were the ones that generated more phone calls. Here’s a partial list of the types of proof these sites have to prove they’re credible and trustworthy:

  • Testimonials/Reviews
  • Case Studies
  • Media Appearances
  • Certifications
  • Association Memberships
  • Badges (ie. BBB and industry specific credentials)
  • Articles published
  • Books written
  • Years Experience

I just submitted an article for the Crazy Egg blog (the article has not been published yet so I can’t link to it here) that provides yet more, well, proof, of why proof is so important.

The premise of the article is this…

Last year for the Crazy Egg blog I used a “Spy Tool” that lets me see who the top AdWords advertisers are for a particular keyword, see what ads they’re running and what landing page they’re sending people to.

I’ve done a series of these posts analyzing advertisers for different keywords, but the first one I did (in March 2013) looked at advertisers for the ultra-competitive word “acne treatment.”

This year, I revisited the keyword “acne treatment” to see how the competitive landscape has changed over the last year.

There were a number of interesting insights that came from doing this, but what was the #1 takeaway?

PROOF.

The advertisers who are continuing to dominate in the market and/or the ones who have moved up the rankings the most since last year have ALL added a lot more proof to their landing pages.

And, a lot of (though not all) of that proof came in the form of social proof where the companies were showcasing the opinions and experiences of their clients (ie. testimonials, often in video form) to make the sale for them.

Which brings us back to how people make decisions.

As Mike, the basement contractor in Oklahoma, has found – most people don’t take the time to do research. They look for shortcuts.

And the most powerful, influential shortcut there is, is social proof.

It’s observing what other people do, listening to what they say and noticing how they behave. And then we use that data to shortcut our own decisions… for better or worse.

Social Proof has always had a huge influence on how humans make decisions.

And as we’re all bombarded with more and more information each day… as consumers become more and more jaded after being screwed by companies that don’t deliver on their promises… as we’ve become so busy and overwhelmed that we seek out shortcuts, cheat sheets, etc. to make our decisions…

Proof has become a bigger and bigger deal to use in advertising.

How good a job do you do at using proof to back up the claims you make on your website and establish your credibility?

Based on every site I’ve seen (this one included!), chances are you could be doing a MUCH better job at it.

It’s well worth the time and effort to add more proof to your website. Don’t be shy about doing this. You don’t want your competitors to “out-proof” you.

Because if they do, you may find new leads for your business becoming rarer than, well, a basement in Oklahoma.

Why Top Online Marketers Are Changing Their Business Model

The times they are a-changin’Bob Dylan

Going behind the scenes this month to bring you some BIG changes taking place in the online marketing world.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking shop with some online marketing friends – guys who are world class (a term I don’t throw around lightly) in PPC and SEO. And all of us are changing the way we approach our businesses and online marketing.

I want to share some of what we’re changing (and why) with you cuz it’s got big implications for your business and how you tackle online marketing.

First a little history…

Let’s go back to the good ol’ days. Just 5 or 10 years ago. Click costs in AdWords were cheap. And it was still pretty easy to rank high in the organic and local search results.

Yes, for those with just a little knowledge of how the search engines worked, life was good.

Well, y’all know those days are long gone!

Now you’d be hard pressed to find a niche where you don’t have to fight tooth and nail against a legion of competitors trying to claim that precious real estate on top of Page 1 of Google for themselves.

Google AdWords Ain’t Just About Search Any More

In AdWords, there was a time you could focus just on campaigns running on Google.com (and maybe the Display Network if you were more advanced) and be just fine.

But now, in addition to Search and Display Networks, there’s Remarketing, Product Listing Ads, Video ads, mobile optimized settings, ad extensions, all sorts of new bidding structures, automated rules, scripts, etc.

And that’s just the surface level stuff. You can dig layers deeper on any one of those topics.

There’s always been a “Stupidity Tax” in AdWords for those who didn’t know what they’re doing. These days, the tax is MUCH higher and Google (and your competitors) will devour you if you’re not careful.

SEO has seen tectonic shifts recently as well.

You can’t go out and buy a bunch of links to catapult your site to the top of the search results any more. Yes, links still matter. But you gotta be VERY careful about how and where you get them. And you need to focus more on regularly creating truly unique content, social signals, Authorship, etc.

The Changes Search Engine Marketing Firms Are Making

There was a time when all we focused on here at Words That Click were AdWords Search campaigns. And that was enough.

There was a time when my buddy who’s a top SEO expert only worried about SEO and building backlinks for his clients. And that was enough.

But just doing those things ain’t enough anymore.

These days, to really make AdWords work, a company like mine can’t put its blinders on and just focus on keywords, ads and bid prices.

Not to say we can’t get improvements focusing on those things because we can and do. But it’ll only get us so far before we hit a wall.

See, to really compete in AdWords (and/or SEO) and truly make significant improvements to a campaign, we HAVE to focus on the landing pages and Conversion Optimization too.

We have to work with businesses on their messaging. Their offers. Their calls to action. Their entire sales funnel really.

All that stuff needs to be addressed to make an AdWords campaign truly fly these days.

But, wait, there’s even more!

Because even if you have great landing pages in place, traffic from Google can still be pricey (though if you’ve optimized your landing pages, you can afford to pay those clicks MUCH easier than your competitors who ignore conversions).

Or, sometimes there are situations where a site’s pretty well optimized and AdWords is driving about as much traffic as we can squeeze out of it so the question becomes how to drive more prospects to a site.

So if we’re really going to our job of helping customers achieve the objective of growing their businesses, we have to look for other sources of paid traffic besides AdWords.

And there’s no shortage of them out there…

  • Bing (and other search engines)
  • FB ads (which have become much more viable for a wider range of businesses lately)
  • Retargeting platforms like Simpli.fi and AdRoll
  • PPV platforms like Trafficvance
  • Content Recommendation Engines like Outbrain
  • and on and on

See, my friends and I in the industry all have a bird’s eye view of what’s going on in the world of online marketing. We get to go behind the scenes of hundreds of companies in all different markets. We study both the successes and failures of various marketing campaigns.

And from that view of the world, we see what the companies dominating their markets are doing.

We see the truly successful companies know their numbers and are obsessive about measuring results (remember this… if you can’t measure it, you can’t fix it).

We see the truly successful companies put a lot of resources into Conversion Optimization and are obsessively testing ways to get more prospects to raise their hands and enter their sales funnels.

We see the truly successful companies never EVER rely on just one source of traffic… they diversify by using a wide range of paid and “free” sources of traffic.

And in seeing all this, it’s crystal clear that as marketing firms we can’t afford to be one trick ponies. Firms that only focus on AdWords or SEO and nothing else are going to go the way of the dodo.

If we’re gonna help our clients’ marketing campaigns be as successful as they can be, just focusing on clicks, backlinks and Quality Scores ain’t gonna make it happen.

What Lessons Should You Take Away From This?

Well, you, as a business owner, can’t afford to be a one trick pony either when it comes to your marketing.

In my 11 Simple Principles report I originally wrote 5 years ago, I said this:

Relying on just one source of traffic and sales to drive your online marketing efforts puts your business in a very dangerous position.”

And that’s even truer today than it was then.

You HAVE to diversify your traffic sources.

You HAVE to work the conversion side of your website.

And you HAVE to carefully measure results so you know your numbers and see EXACTLY what’s putting money in your bank account and what’s siphoning money out of it.

The webs a-changin’.

Yes, it’s a more challenging environment. But your prospects are still looking for you there.

And it’s the companies that adapt by adding more sources of traffic, focus on Conversions and watch their numbers that are gonna turn the lion’s share of the prospects into customers.

So, the question is, is it going to be you or your competition that get them?

7 Easy (And Wickedly Effective) Ways to Pimp Your Website in 2014

Happy New Year!

I’m assuming you’ve got big plans for your business this year, right?

I mean, I’ve never heard an entrepreneur say “I’m happy with how things are. I think I’ll just kick back and relax.”

Heck no! You wanna grow your business. Make it bigger and better. You’re like the Once-ler from the Lorax and figure on “biggering and Biggering and BIGGERING…”!

Well, for most businesses, your website is Ground Zero for making that happen. You want it to be a well-oiled machine that attracts, engages and converts your ideal prospects into paying customers.

So with that in mind, here are 7 tools, strategies and/or tips to help your website do that much more effectively this year. (These are in no particular order, though if I had a gun to my head and was forced to pick just one of these, it’d be #7.)

1. Get Rid of Your Sliders

Yep. I’m talking about those rotating image sliders that are all the rage on websites these days. They flash a product, message, offer, etc. for a few seconds and then move on to the next.

Well, as our parents used to say, “Just because everyone else jumps off a bridge, doesn’t mean you should do it too.”

The thing is, sliders KILL conversions.

There have been a number of studies by conversion experts and, in almost all of them, websites/landing pages that use sliders have lower conversion rates than the ones that just feature ONE specific offer/message/product.

(A lot of it has to do with movement. Our eyes are naturally drawn to movement. So when you have that slider constantly scrolling at the top of your site, it draws visitors’ attention every time it rotates. And that’s distracting and prevents them from focusing on the stuff you really want them paying attention to – your offer, products, proof, call to action, etc.)

So pick the ONE message you want to deliver at the top of your site and make sure it’s the only one that people see at the top of your landing pages.

2. Install Crazy Egg

Full disclosure here – I’m a paid regular contributor to the Crazy Egg blog, The Daily Egg.

That said, I get no kickbacks for recommending Crazy Egg software. The only reason I’m recommending it here is because I believe in it.

The software creates “heatmaps” of your website that visually show you where people are clicking on your website. You can see “scrollmaps” that show how far down the pages of your site most people scroll. You also get “confetti” maps that show information about the people clicking like referral sources, operating system and browser type.

Google Analytics is very important and provides a lot of essential information. But it doesn’t give you the full story. Crazy Egg helps you figure out how people are interacting with your site and provides  invaluable insights on how to rearrange, redesign and revamp things to get them clicking on the things you want them to click on.

It provides insights that help you figure out WHY people aren’t converting on your site. Among the companies that value Crazy Egg to get these insights are Amazon, eBay and Microsoft.

And with plans starting at just $9/month, it’s so ridiculously cheap that you can’t afford not to get access to this treasure trove of information!

3. Set up Goals in Analytics

You’ve got Analytics installed on your site (right?!). Well that’s great, but it’s just the beginning. What you really want to do with Analytics is set up Goals.

What is it you want people to do when they get to your website?

  • Buy something
  • Sign up for a newsletter, free report or whitepaper
  • Start a free trial of your service

Any or all of those things can be set up as Goals in Analytics so you can track when people perform the actions you want them to take. Then you can get a clearer picture of how many people are taking those actions, what source(s) of traffic perform the best and how changes you make to your site affect the conversion rates of your Goals.

Installing Analytics and setting up Goals are completely free and provide essential information you need to improve your sales funnel. If you don’t have them set up yet, make it one of the first New Year’s Resolutions you make good on this year.

4. Better Button Copy

If you have buttons on your website that say “Submit” or “Click Here”, you’re making a big mistake.

Changing the copy on those buttons may be one of the easiest, yet most effective things you can do to increase conversions on your site.

Use copy that conveys a benefit. Here are a few examples:

  • “Start your Free Trial”
  • “Get the Secret Now”
  • “Sign up and reserve your spot today”
  • “Get Free Updates”

You want to use the button copy to convey the VALUE your prospect gets for clicking. Do that effectively and watch your conversions rise.

5. Get Rid of the I’s and We’s

People don’t come to your website to hear all about you, how great you are and/or how great your products and services are.

They come to your site to find out what you and your products and services can DO FOR THEM. How can you make their lives better? How can you eliminate a pain they’re experiencing OR fulfill a desire they have?

Read over the copy on your site and see if there are more I’s, We’s and Our’s, than You’s. Because if you’re talking about yourself more than your prospects, it’s almost a guarantee your message is missing the mark.

Put the focus squarely on them, their emotions, their problems and desires and your copy will be more effective in getting them to respond.

6. Add More Proof

Why should people believe the claims you make on your site?

Most websites fall way short when it comes to backing up those claims. As Internet marketing guru Terry Dean so beautifully put it “Claims without proof, are just hype.”

Take a look at your website. Do you have lots o’ proof to back up the claims you make on it?

Bet you could add more.

Testimonials and case studies are great. But there’s tons of other ways to generate proof…

Videos. Awards. Credentials. Relevant stories. Social media mentions/fans/followers. Media coverage. Published articles. 3rd party endorsements. Celebrity endorsements. Notable clients.

Adding these things give more credibility to the claims you make and reduce the risk in your prospects’ minds about doing business with you.

More proof = lower perceived risk = higher conversions.

7. Install Optimizely

Okay, if you only do one thing to your website in 2014, it’s this.

Optimizely is a software tool that allows you to easily make changes to a page on your website and then split test the original vs. the page with the changes to see which one generates more conversions.

Basically Optimizely makes a copy of your web page on their server and lets you easily edit the text, images, buttons, etc. on that page (through a WYSIWIG editor… NO coding is required to make changes!).

All you do is install one snippet of code on your site, decide what changes you want to make to try to boost conversions and the software does the rest.

It will show half the visitors to your site the original version and the other half the page that has the change(s). Then it does the math and tells you when one of the variations has outperformed the other and you have a statistically significant winner.

In AdWords, split testing your ads is about the best thing you can do over time to increase the performance of your campaigns. And it’s simple to do.

Optimizely makes split testing your website – the best thing you can do over time to increase the performance of your website – almost as simple as split testing your AdWords ads.

We’re using Optimizely more and more on client sites and it’s an incredibly addictive (and profitable for clients!) game to try to consistently beat the control and improve conversions on the site.

And it’s dirt cheap to get started with a 30 day free trial and a base package starting at just $17/month. Considering the revenue boost an increase in conversions can bring to your business, using Optimizely can easily be THE most profitable investment you make in the New Year.

$300 Flip Flops & The Philosophy of Money

Okay, I’m going a bit philosophical on y’all this month.

That wasn’t the original plan. I’d been planning to share some important insights into AdWords. But that’ll have to wait cuz I got something more important to discuss instead.

And it’s something that applies to all businesses… not just those who use AdWords.

Actually, this gets down to the absolute fundamentals of what you’re trying to accomplish in marketing.  (We’ll get to that in a bit, but need to set it up first.)

So what’s so important?

MONEY

Yep. Good ‘ol cash. Moolah. Greenbacks. Benjamins. Smackers. Coin. Dinero.

This article was sparked by a Mastermind Group I’m in. Recently, we had a few speakers come in to talk about money, the psychology of money and building wealth.

One of the speakers posed the following question (that he says is important for ALL of us to answer):

“What is your philosophy of money?”

The question kinda surprised me because, quite frankly, until he asked that question I never thought I had a philosophy of money!

But we all do. Most of us just haven’t stopped to think about it.

How bout you? When was the last time you stopped to think about your philosophy of money?

What is it that you believe about money?

Money Is Not The Root of All Evil

For example, there’s a common saying “Money is the root of all evil”.

Do you agree with that statement?

I don’t.

I believe money is just money. It can’t do anything on its own.

If you take a twenty outta your wallet, put it on the table and tell it “go do something evil”, nothing’s gonna happen.

Because in and of itself, money is neither good nor evil. It just is.

It’s what people DO with it that makes money good or evil.

So, following that logic, you could make the case that it’s actually people that are the source of all evil. Though, along with that, you’d also have to say that people are the source of all good.

Whoa… going a bit deeper here than expected. My brain’s starting to hurt.

So before we jump off the philosophical deep end, let’s reel things back in a bit and get to the main point I want to make here and how this all applies to your business…

See, in thinking about my philosophy of money, one of my beliefs is that, in general, people aren’t too good at determining the value of money on our own.

Is $5 Really Worth $5?

Yes a $5 bill is worth $5 and a $100 bill is worth $100. That’s not what I’m talking about here, though.

To understand what I’m talking about, we need to get clear on the difference between COST and VALUE. And to do that, I’m gonna turn to the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett, who once described it this way:

“Cost is what you pay, value is what you get.”

So, what we’re talking about here is how do you determine what the VALUE of that $5 or $100 is to you?

Or, more importantly for business owners, what’s the VALUE of $5 or $100 to your prospects?

As business owners, that’s a critical question to answer. Because the only way you’re gonna get their dough is if they believe the value of what they’re getting from you is equal to or greater than what they’re giving you.

And here’s the key to this… most of the value does not lie in the features of the product/service you provide. It’s in the ultimate benefit that your prospects believe they will GET from your product/service.

$300 Flip Flops

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Let’s talk flip flops for a minute.

You can get flip flops on Zappos.com or at Target for less than $20. If you want a pair of leather flip flops at one of those places, you can find them for $50 or so.

Want a pair of Prada flip flops at Saks? That’ll set you back about $290. (Want the leather flip flops with a rubber sole from Gucci? That’ll be $350 please.)

Now, we’re talkin’ flip flops here. There’s not much material that goes into making them. Basically about 10 inches of rubber and some thin straps.

Is the cost of materials and labor that go into the Gucci and Prada flip flops $300 more than the ones you’ll find at Target?

Not likely.

But people will shell out $300 for the luxury brand…

Because in their minds the higher cost, in and of itself, makes them value the flip flops more.

Because in their minds, the Prada flip flops are a status symbol.

Because in their minds, buying Prada flip flops buys them membership into an exclusive club they want to be a part of.

In other words, the value of the Prada flip flops isn’t in the flip flops themselves, it’s in how the flip flops make them FEEL. It’s what wearing Prada flip flops represents to them. It’s how wearing those flip flops helps them play out the story about themselves they picture in their minds.

This example is about luxury brands, but the concept applies to pretty much anything you sell. You have to understand the true motivations behind WHY your prospects want what you offer. You have to understand what they value and how they value it. You have to understand the story they believe about themselves and help them write the ending they wish to achieve/avoid.

The Most Important Job of Your Marketing

The key to what I said before about people not being too good about determining the value of money are the words “on our own”.

See, most of the value we place on things is shaped by EXTERNAL factors. We’re not good at doing it in a vacuum.

It’s shaped by our friends and the people we surround ourselves with. It’s shaped by media and the culture we live in. It’s shaped by the brands and marketing messages we’re exposed to (by the way, we direct marketers can be a bit dismissive of branding, but a powerful brand does wonders for establishing the value of its offerings).

It’s that last one that you have control over. YOU have the power to help your clients determine the true value of what you’re offering them.

Arguably the most important job of your marketing is to build that value up so your prospects believe they’d be foolish to pass on your offer. AND bonus points if you convince them it’s worth paying you a premium over what your competitors charge.

That’s not easy to do.

It takes a lot of research. It takes a lot of testing. It takes a lot of work.

But doing it will be the most valuable thing you can do for your business.

Well, at least that’s my philosophy.

Marketing Lesson From Buttwipes (No Joke, Literally… Buttwipes!)

You might find this video hilarious.

You might find this video in poor taste (and maybe even offensive).

But whatever you find it, there’s a very serious… and very important marketing lesson everyone should take away from it.

First, watch the video…


DollarShaveClub.com’s first video went viral and has over 11 million views on YouTube since it was posted about a year ago.

This new one for One Wipe Charlies is well on its way with over 1 million views in about 3 months.

But it’s not the viral nature of the video I want to talk about.

There are a few lessons to be learned from it, but the one I want to focus on here is this:

Positioning.

See, plenty of other companies sell a similar product to One Wipe Charlies, but they call them the very sterile sounding “moist wipes” or “baby wipes”. The brands selling them usually include words like “fresh” and “gentle” in the name.

That’s fine if you’re selling to women and babies. But there are few things less manly sounding than buying fresh and gentle moist wipes.

The beauty of this video is how it repositions moist wipes into a product that’s quite manly. Yes, it’s a funny video, but it’s also very smartly done and well thought out. It appeals to men by:

  • Calling the product buttwipes instead of moist wipes
  • Using crude humor in the video that most husbands will find MUCH funnier than their wives (and will want to share and talk about with their friends)
  • Using marines and machine guns

By catering very specifically to their target market, One Wipe Charlies come across as a much more masculine product to use.

How can this apply to your business (the positioning, NOT the machine guns)? Ask yourself these questions…

  • What product or service do you sell that could be repositioned to appeal to a new or underserved market?
  • What product or service do your competitors sell that you could reposition to appeal to a new or underserved market?

I know guys in the online marketing world who were struggling and decided to focus on one specific market. So, for example, instead of offering SEO and PPC services to all businesses, they just offered their services to law firms.

I know a web designer who changed his business model to just serve Non Profits.

There are accountants who position themselves to just work with doctors or with truck drivers.

And by repositioning their businesses to target a very specific segment of the population, they’ve had much more success.

DollarShaveClub didn’t just go after the buttwipe market because they wanted to make a funny video. They did their research. They saw an underserved market. And they took an existing product and positioned it to appeal to a market the competition is largely ignoring.

You can do the same thing.

Reposition the products/services you and/or your competitors sell so they appeal to a very specific segment of the market. If you do it right, you’ll capture a much higher market share than trying to appeal to everyone.

And, you don’t even have to resort to making crude videos to do it. Though, if you do, be sure to send me the link! 😉

Is This Syndrome Sinking Your Sales?

There was just no convincing him otherwise.

Chris was a prospect who called looking for help exclusively for SEO and Local Search. After listening to his situation and assessing his goals, I brought up AdWords because I thought it’d help him achieve those goals much faster.

But, the instant I mentioned AdWords, Chris balked at the idea.

The reason?

He’d tried it. Didn’t work. End of story.

Recently I sat down with another prospect who was telling me about her recent attempt at direct mail. Juila sent out about 15,000 pieces in a few different waves and got 1 new client from it.

(In fact, 10 times MORE people contacted Julia demanding to be taken off her list after receiving her mailing!)

From Julia’s perspective, she’s done with direct mail.

She’d tried it. Didn’t work. End of story.

This month, we’re going to dig into these stories a bit more closely. And what you’ll see is that both these business owners suffer from the same syndrome that severely cripples the sales potential at many businesses.

It’s a pretty common syndrome too and one that, after reading this article, hopefully you won’t suffer from any longer.

The Syndrome

Chris, who runs a local service business, became a client. We’re doing the SEO and Local Search optimization he initially contacted me about.

Since he runs a locally focused business, we started optimizing his site so he could rank better for a lot of search terms that contained the names of local cities/zip codes his company services.

The issue with SEO and Local Search in a situation like this is it can take a LONG time to get results in all the cities. And, of course, the most important cities are often the most competitive and the hardest battles to fight.

That’s a main reason why I suggested AdWords in the first place. With AdWords, we could make sure he shows up on Page 1 when someone searches for him in each and every city that’s important to his business.

But Chris was sour on AdWords. He’d run a campaign in the past (set up by someone at Google) and it was a money pit that generated huge credit card payments but few, if any, leads.

I didn’t force the issue, but as we got deeper into the SEO project and the relationship grew, I brought up AdWords again. He was still quite skeptical, but I asked if I could at least have access to his old AdWords campaign and poke around a bit.

Well, it didn’t take but 30 seconds after going into his campaign to see WHY it didn’t work.

  • Instead of targeting just the area Chris’ business serves, the geotargeting was set for the entire state his business was in (and it’s a big state!).
  • The keywords were all Broad Match keywords (a number of which were WAY too generic to be in his campaign).
  • And all the ad copy was pointing to the home page of the website instead of the subpages that were most relevant to the keywords in each ad group.

It’s no wonder the campaign was a money pit!

But Chris didn’t know this. He just knew that he’d tried AdWords, it didn’t work, and he wasn’t interested in trying it again.

He was suffering from “I-Tried-Before-And-It-Doesn’t-Work Syndrome”.

It’s the same Syndrome the other prospect I mentioned, Julia, suffers from.

After sending out 15K pieces of direct mail and getting one sale, Julia decided that direct mail doesn’t work.

She had a copy of her direct mail piece with her during our meeting and at least one of the big reasons her mailings didn’t succeed was immediately obvious.

In scanning the copy, I could see it was chock full of the words “I”, “Me” and “My”. Essentially, the whole piece was about the company and its owner. It had very little to do with the thing prospects care about most… themselves!

(Whether with Direct Mail, AdWords, your website, Email or whatever marketing channel you use, if you’re not focusing on the prospect and showing them how you can solve a problem they have or a desire they wish to fulfill, then your chances of success are miniscule!)

A Good Idea Poorly Executed…

There’s a reason a lot of companies still use AdWords and Direct Mail… they’re effective, viable marketing channels that can and do generate leads and sales successfully for a lot of businesses.

This is not to say they work all the time. This is not to say they’ll work in every industry.

But this is to say that before you turn your back on a marketing channel, you need to make sure you gave it a fair shake.

If you have a low level employee at Google who’s never run a business before build an AdWords campaign for you, the chances of it succeeding are much lower than if you paid a seasoned AdWords pro that takes the time to understand your business, your customers and your sales funnel.

If you write your own direct mail piece but don’t understand the fundamentals of direct response copy, the chances of succeeding are slim compared to hiring an experienced direct response copywriter who understands how to get people to respond to a well crafted offer.

(And, perhaps even more important, finding an expert list broker who will get you a high quality list so you know your message gets in front in the right target audience.)

Don’t turn your back on AdWords, Direct Mail, email or other forms of marketing because of I-Tried-It-Before-And-It-Doesn’t-Work Syndrome.

Get a second opinion. Have an AdWords expert look over your old AdWords campaign. Have an experienced marketer/copywriter/list broker review your previous direct mail efforts.

There’s lotsa money to be made with AdWords, direct mail, email, etc. It’d be a shame for you to miss out on it because your previous efforts were doomed to fail from the start.

The Basic Ingredient of Marketing, The Importance of a Handshake and, Ummm, What’s That Smell?

Each month I come across some brilliant videos, quotes, books, articles, etc. (and plenty of crappy ones too!).

Here are three that particularly resonated with me (in a good way) in July:

A Quote: The Basic Ingredient of Marketing

“As a marketer, understanding the depth and urgency of raw need in your target population is critical. This is where world-class sales pitches begin to foment. It’s the basic ingredient.” – John Carlton

In prepping for my recent interview with copywriting legend John Carlton, I read and reread his ebook, “The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Your Shit Together“. This book has gem after gem of invaluable insights about sales and marketing from one of the best. No one I’ve come across has a deeper understanding of consumer pshychology and how to use it to craft incredible marketing pieces than John. I highly recommend picking up this ebook here.

An Article: The Emotions of Smell

This is a short, fascinating article about how retailers use smell to help drive people to buy. Now, I know most of you are not retailers and aren’t going to use smell to influence buyers (at least until people can smell through their computers!). But that’s not the point of sharing this. The point is to see how the retailers are using smell as a way to trigger EMOTIONS in their customers that get them in the buying mood. Read the article and think about how you could tap into your customers’ emotions more in your marketing.

A Video:  The Power of a Handshake

Big wakeup call in a world where our business “network” is defined by how many people we’re connected to on LinkedIn, our “friends” are people we stalk or play Farmville with on Facebook and our “conversations” involve sending 140 character messages to on Twitter. Great lesson here from Simon Sinek for both our business and personal lives.

 

 

People As Sheep, The Power of Words and a Brilliant Bald Guy

Each month I come across some brilliant videos, quotes, books, articles, etc. (and plenty of crappy ones too!).

Here are three that particularly resonated with me, in a good way, this month…

An Article: The Power of Words

Stuck on what to do with your website?

Thinking of changing the layout? Adding some cool graphics? Did you see some fancy bells and whistles on another site you think would be cool on yours?

Justin Jackson lays out what you REALLY need to be focusing on with incredible simplicity and clarity. It’s great perspective that a lot of business owners and marketers desperately need.

Read his concise, yet powerful, article here.

A Quote: People Are Like Sheep

Claude Hopkins is one of the true pioneers of direct response advertising. Ask any direct marketer worth their weight in salt and they’ve read his books Scientific Advertising and My Life in Advertising… many times.

The following quote is from My Life in Advertising…

“People are like sheep. They cannot judge values, nor can you and I. We judge things largely by others’ impressions, by popular favor. We go with the crowd. So the most effective thing I have ever found in advertising is the trend of the crowd.

That is a factor not to be overlooked. People follow styles and preferences. We rarely decide for ourselves, because we don’t know the facts. But when we see the crowd taking any certain direction, we are much inclined to go with them.”

Claude Hopkins wrote these words in 1927. And they are just as true now as they were then. The only thing that’s changed is the ways that are available to demonstrate the trend of the crowd behind your company including…

  • Reviews
  • Video testimonials
  • LinkedIn connections/recommendations
  • Twitter followers
  • Facebook Likes/Wall activity/Shares

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve said before that the web has not changed the fundamentals of effective marketing. What it’s changed are the TOOLS you have at your disposal to take marketing strategies that have worked for decades and execute them in new ways.

Social Proof is programmed into our brains. We’re all afraid of making bad decisions and will often rely heavily on the trend of the crowd to guide us in making decisions.

Adding elements of Social Proof to your site puts the power of the crowd behind you and can heavily influence a prospect’s decision to do business with you or not.

So use the tools at your disposal to add social proof to your marketing efforts and use them often!

And a Video: A Brilliant Bald Guy

I’m sure most of you have heard of marketing genius (and fellow Smokin’ Hot Piece of Brain Candy) Seth Godin.

There’s really not much to add about this video from his TED Talk in 2003. He pretty much covers it all.

But since my main newsletter article this month covers the importance of research, I want to highlight one quote from Seth’s talk…

“Find out what people want and give it to them.”

And how do you find out what people want? Observation and research.

Here’s Seth talking about giving people what they want and being remarkable…

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