Monthly Archive: June 2018

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Want to Double Sales? Pull One of These 4 Levers

sourced from: https://www.digitalmarketer.com/double-sales/

Let’s just get right to it…

Here is the formula for doubling sales…

L x C x M x f = GP

Where…

L = leads
C = customers
M = margin
f = frequency of purchase

It looks like this…

Leads x Customers x Margin x Frequency = Growth Potential

Doubling any of the variables above (leads, customers, margin, frequency of purchase) will double your sales.

Double them all and you will 16X your business. Can you double them all? Doubtful.

Can you double one of them? Two of them? Even 3 of them?

Absolutely.

In other words, there are 4 levers you have available to grow your business…

Increase the number of leads
Increase the number of customers
Increase the margin
Increase the frequency of purchase

Let’s look at each “growth lever” in turn…

How to Double the Number of Leads

Want more leads?

You either need…

A Lead Magnet
More Lead Magnets
Better Lead Magnets

A Lead Magnet looks like this…

If you click on that “Download Now” button you will be asked for your email address to receive the content.

Here’s another Lead Magnet…

A Lead Magnet is simply an irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.

The key word in the above definition is SPECIFIC.

In nearly every case (assuming you are getting traffic to your Lead Magnet) the reason a Lead Magnet is not performing well is because it doesn’t solve a specific problem.

This is a terrible Lead Magnet…

But this one isn’t much better…

In both cases there is no specificity.

Our testing shows that a Lead Magnet that solves a specific problem can convert over 60% of the traffic to a Lead Magnet offer into a lead.

Take another look at the two Lead Magnet examples above and study the use of specificity…

If you want to double your leads—start with your Lead Magnet.

Start with SPECIFICITY.

How to Double the Number of Customers

Let me be clear…

This section is NOT about doubling profit—it’s about doubling the number of customers you are acquiring.

Big difference.

Acquiring customers is NOT the same thing as acquiring profit. In fact, in some cases acquiring customers will cause negative cash flow. In other words, while acquiring customers can lead to profitability—customer acquisition is NOT about profitability.

It’s about activating BUYERS.

To do that, we use something called a Tripwire Offer.

Here’s one from us…

And here’s one from VistaPrint…

And here’s another from GoDaddy…

We’re not going to get rich selling $9.95 books. VistaPrint doesn’t expect their $9.99 for 500 business cards offer to meet payroll. And GoDaddy shareholders don’t expect $.99 domains to keep the lights on.

We’re simply acquiring BUYERS.

Notice the price point on these offers:

$9.95 for a book
$9.99 for 500 business cards
$.99 for a domain name

We’re not exactly asking for a blood oath here—these are high-value, low barrier-to-entry offers intended that are designed to acquire customers.

If you want to double your number of customers—create a solid Tripwire offer.

But don’t expect that offer to make you more profitable. For that you’ll need to work on your margin…

(NOTE: Want to Learn 6 ways to Double Your Business? You can do so in this free 6-week course.)

How to Double Your Margin

Of course DigitalMarketer doesn’t only sell books.

And VistaPrint and GoDaddy have more than just business cards and domains to sell.

In fact, VistaPrint has a number of ways they can increase the value of that $9.99 transaction.

First, I can add a back side to my business cards for as little as $2.99…

From here I can…

Add to my quantity (Up to $139.99)
Upgrade to a “brilliant finish” (Additional $29.24)
Get better paper stock (Additional $11.24)
Buy one of those fancy business card holders (Up to $8.99)

Actually before it’s all said and done I can buy…

Pens
Car Door Magnets
Letterhead
Hats
Business Card Magnets
Mousepads
T-shirts
and on and on…

Every offer is relevant. Every offer is consistent with my original intent to get promotional materials for my business.

Every offer is intended to increase margin.

What’s going to happen if I start down the registration process for a $.99 domain from GoDaddy?

First, they’ll offer to bundle the .net, .org, and .info version of the domain with the .com…

Smart.

Then, they start upselling private registration, hosting, website design, and email…

And it doesn’t stop there.

They’ll offer multi-year registration, search engine optimization, and social media services.

As for DigitalMarketer, we follow the purchase of my $9.95 book about email marketing with a content series designed to sell our $1,997 flagship email marketing training called The Machine.

Do you think making $1997 sales to customers that originally purchased a $9.95 offer increases our profit margin?

You bet it does.

And the additional offers made by VistaPrint and GoDaddy (and every other business that understands how to increase margin) are where the real money is made.

These upsells, cross sells, bundles, etc. are what make the cost of customer acquisition worth it.

Looking to double your margin?

Ask this simple question: “What else can I sell to the customers I am acquiring?”

How to Double the Frequency of Purchase

Ok, time for the last piece of the formula: Purchase Frequency.

What if you could get customers to buy twice as often?  Sales would double.

To do that, you need constant, strategic communication.

We call it The Return Path.

The fact is that most sales don’t occur on the first visit, so without follow-up in place—you’re leaving an enormous amount of sales on the table.

These are all forms of The Return Path…

Exit Offers: A pop up offer that appears when a prospect attempts to exit a page
Ad Retargeting: Digital ads that show to prospects based on their prior behavior (Translation: Those ads that follow you around the web after your visit a web page)
 Automated Email Follow-Up: A strategic email marketing plan that brings leads and buyers back to offers and content again and again

This last tactic, email follow-up, is the most effective way to double purchase frequency.

Every email you send should have one of five purposes…

Indoctrinate: Teach them who you are
Engage: Get them to buy
Ascend: Get them to buy more
Segment: Learn what they want to buy next
Reengage/Win Back: Reactivate disinterested subscribers

Email follow-up is so critical that we’ve created an entire article on building an email marketing machine here.

If you want to double purchase frequency—you need a Return Path.

Are you seeing the power of these “Growth Levers?”

Good news: I have created a FREE 6-part “Double Your Sales” course for those that want more detail, more examples, and more explanation.

In the FREE “Double Your Sales” course you’ll learn…

* Lesson 1: Discover the 4 unique “Growth Levers” that can increase the sales and profits of a business

* Lesson 2: How to perfectly position your offer so it gives your prospects EXACTLY what they want

* Lesson 3: Increasing Your Leads… the 3 vital elements of any lead magnet

* Lesson 4: Increasing Your Conversions… learn the most under-utilized business asset that can literally double… even TRIPLE your conversion rates overnight

* Lesson 5: Increasing Your Profits… learn 5 of the 3-word phrase that will increase your average profit per customer

* Lesson 6: How to set up an “Invisible Selling Machine” in your business to increase your sales frequency…

Register for the “Double Your Sales” course by clicking on the image below…

Have a question?

Ask the DM team and 12,220 other members in the DM Engage Facebook Group!

Not a DM Lab Member? Learn more here.

The post Want to Double Sales? Pull One of These 4 Levers appeared first on DigitalMarketer.

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Why Good Site Architecture Is The Only CRO You Need

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/good-site-architecture/

When you hear the words “site architecture,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably SEO.

It doesn’t take much digging into SEO best practice to learn that Google loves a site with clearly defined architecture that’s easy to crawl and index.

But if you stopped your site architecture planning with just your SEO, then you’ve missed out on the greater picture.

Site architecture isn’t just an effort to game search engines into ranking your site higher.

It does help with SEO, but it’s so much more than that.

Ultimately, your site architecture should be a strategic effort that allows your organic or paid visitors to navigate easily and use your site for its intended purpose.

That means that site architecture is the older brother of conversion rate optimization.

So in this post, I want to show you exactly how site architecture simultaneously supersedes and enables traditional conversion rate optimization efforts.

And to start things off, I want to dig a little deeper into why so many conversion rate optimization efforts fail.

Why conversion rate optimization doesn’t always work

When dialing in your conversion rate optimization, it’s easy to want to focus on the more traditional efforts.

Typical conversion rate optimization efforts require brands to set up competing versions of the same page in order to see how they can improve them.

It’s like a battle royale for website pages.

After a week or two of waiting and measuring, the best performing page wins.

One of them stays up, while the others are discarded for all eternity.

From there, more experimentation occurs based on the winning page’s performance to see if anything else can be improved.

Sometimes, brands will even get brave and conduct some multivariate tests to see if changing multiple elements can yield improvement.

Much like a traditional A/B test, the results hinge on a last-man-standing approach.

Brands can be the loser, and the winner stays up as the subject of more experimentation.

All of this is an ongoing effort to see how you can improve conversions over time.

Many frequently blog about this practice, which even has its own career field in the marketing industry.

But these types of tests aren’t always the most dependable for small brands that need to optimize as efficiently as possible.

And even some large businesses fall prey to common A/B testing mistakes.

For example, elements like sample size can drastically skew the results of conversion rate testing.

Simply put, if you’re not getting enough traffic, then you’ll be making changes and concluding off of insufficient amounts of data.

That means you could be making the wrong moves and ultimately hurting your brand’s performance.

Or you could also be testing something silly, like colors on your website.

To put it in ConversionXL’s Ott Niggulis’ words:

“There is no universal best color. What works on one site, doesn’t necessarily work on another.”

And that’s part of the point as well.

Many conversion rate optimization trends rise on the backs of a brand or two saying they saw good results from a particular experiment.

Then everyone does it, and confusion results when improvement doesn’t follow.

And then to make matters worse, many brands often don’t allow a proper amount of time to see if their results end up sticking.

If your variable regresses back to your control’s average, then there’s a good chance that dropping your control could be a bad idea.

Many brands will prematurely make a decision on the first few days, which ultimately hurts them in the long run.

People call this the small win mentality. It ultimately leads to poor optimization and potentially undermines your results.

So with all of the potential pitfalls of traditional conversion rate optimization, can site architecture create a more foolproof way to ensure that your website sees plenty of conversions?

To answer that, I want to break down some of the basics of site architecture and show you how it correlates to your conversion rate optimization.

How site architecture creates conversions

Your site’s architecture focuses on building a platform that is easier for your users to navigate.

When you look into what site architecture actually is, you’ll typically see a graph that offers a genealogy-like depiction of how pages on your site interact.

While there’s a good chance no two sites will be exactly alike, this hierarchy style is a pretty standard example.

You start from a homepage and then navigate through a series of categories and subcategories until you’ve found what you’re looking for.

If this process is fluid, as in the graph above, then your users will have no issues.

But if the architecture is muddled, and it’s hard to find a page that should fall under a natural category, then it’s increasingly more likely that your users will leave.

In other words, the idea is to create a fluid user experience that ultimately leads to trackable and accurate conversion testing.

If you implement this correctly, you’ll have a site that’s easier to improve on in the long run.

But does site architecture have a genuinely positive effect on your conversions?

A brand called Voicer reported a 75% increase in conversions by correcting some “small” user experience flaws in their site.

If they can see that kind of improvement from small changes, imagine what would happen on a site that has significant user experience problems.

And yet another brand reported a 112% increase in revenue by improving the usability of their site.

So, good site architecture that leads to good user experience can clearly act as a solid basis for conversion rate optimization.

But breaking down the user experience of your website isn’t a simple process.

It requires a great deal of data gathering and analyzing to get to a point where you can indeed create a site architecture that works well for conversions.

Thankfully, there’s a method called the honeycomb model that shows you how exactly user experience can be broken down to help optimize your conversion rates.

This methodology provides a simple framework that helps brands create websites with the following characteristics:

Useful: Serve the purpose for they created it.
Usability: Simple and easy to use.
Accessible: Anyone can use it.
Desirable: Provides positive emotion and is pleasant to use.
Findable: Navigation is intuitive, and solutions are easy to find.
Credible: Conveys in a believable or trustworthy manner.
Valuable: Delivers on a promised value.

If you can fulfill all of the requirements in the honeycomb model, then you optimize your sales funnel paths naturally for conversions.

So for the rest of the article, I want to show you some ways that you draw a direct line between user experience, site architecture, and conversion rate optimization.

You’ll see without a doubt that site architecture is a viable path to increase your lead generation.

Reason #1: It gives your site utility

The first steps of the honeycomb model rely on creating a website that is useful and usable.

This addresses the utility and the function of your site in a few ideas that are easy to understand.

But just because they’re easy to understand doesn’t mean they’re easy to implement.

When building out your site’s architecture, you need to create an experience that helps your user find what they came for.

This natural flow is the first place to start when addressing the usability and usefulness of your website.

This ultimately determines how people interact with your website.

And how they interact with your website will, in turn, determine how many conversions you get in the long run.

Think of it in terms of an example involving a site that sells power tools.

On a well-designed website, this would be a logical flow of thought:

Users can navigate based on the type of tool that they want to find. The site then presents individual products according to whether they are cordless, electric, or gas powered.

Now imagine if you were to switch some of the products around.

In this case, if you were trying to find a gas powered saw, you would naturally look under the gas powered tools.

If you misplace this in your site’s architecture, a user might navigate to the logical page but still be unable to find a product you actually have.

That means no matter how much you optimize the page, your organic traffic will struggle to navigate your site and may ultimately leave.

So when linking site architecture to conversion rates, the first place most brands start is with a mockup of what they want their users to achieve.

The purpose is to base the entire website design process on actual data and user behavior.

In the words of Paypal UX designer Larry Sawyer:

“They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a mock-up is worth even more than that.”

So this design process typically follows a flow of testing, analysis, definition, ideating, prototyping, and then validating.

If you follow this particular model, you’ll be able to create a website that is usable by anyone in your audience and thus inherently useful to all parties.

So your initial goal is to optimize your site according to what visitors are doing.

You then take that information and analyze their behavior to see what stands out.

How they use your site defines what is essential, which further provides you the ideas you need to test if you want to improve your conversions.

From this information, you create a prototype of your website, and then validate your findings with additional testing.

If the prototype is invalid, you rinse and repeat until your site is in complete working order.

Keep in mind that this style of UX design does typically involve more design than just site architecture.

But for our purposes, we want to focus on the bigger picture.

So when finally creating your site’s architecture mockup, many brands start with a comprehensive markup of how the elements of every page contribute to the user experience.

As this professional breakdown demonstrates, you can draw out and improve every aspect of your site.

From this exercise, you can create a basic outline of what your users should achieve on every page of your site.

The purpose here is to take a vast amount of data from your original design and then strip it away until only a series of user actions remain.

This, in turn, dictates your site’s architecture as it is a direct representation of how you want your user to use your site.

From this simplified design, one then typically creates a more comprehensive wireframe mockup.

Once you’ve completed the wireframe, you only need to finalize your imagery, copy, and calls to action.

You can then test your new prototype site to see if your user experience is positively affected.

If this simplifies the actions your users take, then you truly aligned your site’s architecture with the intent of your audience, thus fulfilling the usefulness and usability criteria.

This process can be tedious, but it’s a great illustration of how data-backed and conversion oriented your site architecture really is.

If you can successfully do this with your site, you’ll be one step closer to creating a better overall conversion funnel that will help your brand for years to come.

Reason #2: It creates positive momentum

As we move deeper into the user experience and site architecture connection, the next layer according to the honeycomb model hinges on creating positive momentum.

That means according to the honeycomb model it needs to be desirable, accessible, and findable.

So once you’ve established a flow and created a site that’s usable on any device, the next step is to move beyond and create a pleasant experience.

So your goal at this point should be to create a site that’s both easy to navigate and that builds natural forward momentum.

If you strive to emphasize the architecture of your site with compelling storytelling, the natural result will be that more users complete actions on your site.

That means finding a way to create a site whose architecture naturally lends itself to being informative, interactive, and even at times entertaining.

Consider the example of the site My Grandmother’s Lingo.

This award-winning website helps users learn new words from one of the oldest language in the world.

The creators designed the website for use and utility but even took that effort a step further by making it compelling and engaging.

The tantalizing idea of learning something both old and new hooks the user, and then sends them on a 10-minute journey where they learn something.

In the end, the primary goal is to help spread awareness of these ancient languages and provide a platform for future preservation.

How do they achieve this? Through vivid storytelling and a clear site architecture that’s geared toward positive momentum.

But momentum isn’t just about storytelling.

It also relies on where you position yourself, like on mobile.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFCs5dx9LVI?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

More than ever, users are browsing with a mobile device.

That means that the architecture of your site needs to be conducive to both a desktop user and a mobile user.

If you only focus on one or the other, you are missing a significant portion of your potential audience, and thus you are losing conversions.

And if someone comes to your mobile site only to find it isn’t optimized, then all positive momentum is gone.

But momentum has to start even further back with your SEO.

And site architecture plays a critical role in bringing organic traffic to your site and providing forward momentum.

In one study, a brand was able to increase their site’s organic traffic from 800 visits per month to over 3,600 per month by focusing on the user experience their website gave.

That’s a growth of 350%.

They achieved this by focusing entirely on the information architecture of their site and its contents.

So it’s clear that site architecture can lead to more traffic.

If your traffic can access across any device, then your momentum continues.

Moreover, if your storytelling is engaging, you further the momentum again.

And all of this links back to your site’s architecture and how well both Google and your audience utilize it.

Reason #3: It ultimately clarifies value

The final reason that links your site’s architecture to your efforts concerning conversion rate optimization hinges on your site being credible and valuable.

Another way you could say that is, “How does your site’s architecture help you deliver on your promise?”

If you fail to deliver a promise by creating a muddled and confusing site, then you’re never going to be able to see any real improvement from an A/B test.

And according to the LIFT model of CRO, the clarity and relevance of your value proposition will ultimately take your brand to new heights.

The key to remember here is that users don’t always come to your website via your homepage.

There’s a good chance they could enter at any given point, so long as they have the right URL.

For example, how do you potentially sell – via your site’s architecture – to a visitor who first visited your blog?

If you don’t have a way for them to get their bearings and navigate your site immediately, you could potentially lose a lead before the process even begins.

Your goal then, with your site’s architecture, is to provide value at every stage.

That means that when someone comes to your site, they should immediately know where they are.

Elements such as your permalink structure even play a role in helping your visitor understand where they are and what value your site offers.

If you parse your site out into easily understandable silos, like the example above, users will see your site as much more credible and ultimately more useful.

Take for example the Merge and Purge case study that sought to boost organic traffic and improve user experience.

In this case, the focus was on taking disparate pieces of content created over many years and compiling them into understandable content silos.

When the site was simplified, they saw a 32% increase in organic traffic.

And as we’ve already seen, organic traffic is the part of the site architecture conversion machine.

So in this case, by clarifying the value of their site by creating a cleaner content architecture, the brand was able to achieve a big win.

Brands should always seek to clarify their value proposition, and in this case, the answer is simple:

Your site architecture is the best place to start.

Conclusion

Conversion rate optimization is a nuanced and technical field.

It takes a lot of time and effort to learn the ins and outs of what works and what doesn’t, and that often trips up brands that seek to experiment and grow their online presence.

A/B tests fail very often, and the resulting frustration often turns businesses away from conversion rate optimization as a whole.

But if you were to focus on creating a robust site architecture, the results can be very different in the best possible way.

Site architecture is the backbone of conversions, and following the honeycomb model to help improve your user experience is the best course of action.

If you do, your site will have much more utility, and your site’s users will be able to navigate with ease.

From there, you can use your architecture to build positive momentum and keep people engaged with your brand.

And finally, you’ll have a clearer and more appealing value proposition that users can find from any entry point.

You’ll be much better suited to grow and convert new leads by merely creating a solid site architecture.

How has your site’s architecture helped or hurt your brand?

The post Why Good Site Architecture Is The Only CRO You Need appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Is Influencer Marketing Dead? A Hard Look at The Newest Data (and What You Can Do Instead)

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/is-influencer-marketing-dead/

Is anyone having deja vu?

Every time a new marketing tactic becomes more mainstream, marketers and researchers inevitably wonder if it has peaked and started to lose its effectiveness.

We’ve seen this before with SEO, email marketing, Facebook marketing, and many others.

It’s a fair question to ask, though.

After all, each year brings new trends in marketing, and some tactics can go out of style. It’s worth examining different approaches to see if they’re still effective.

The tactic we’ll evaluate today is influencer marketing.

Though influencer marketing has been around for a very long time, it has only become a popular marketing tactic in recent years.

With the influx of social media in 2004, influencer marketing exploded and became a lot more prevalent.

Now, fast forward 14 years later.

Influencer marketing has seen some incredible successes and even a few massive failures.

That’s why we need to take a closer look at influencer marketing in 2018.

Should you continue to invest in influencer marketing, or is it dead?

The answer isn’t exactly a simple “yes” or “no.”

But recent data can help you decide if influencer marketing has staying power and if it is the right tactic for your brand to implement in 2018.

The complex current state of influencer marketing in 2018

Let’s dive right in.

I’m going to address the million-dollar question that everyone is asking:

“Is influencer marketing dead?”

Here’s the answer: not really.

But, I have to admit, its future is uncertain.

At the moment, marketers are continuing to focus on influencer marketing as a viable and essential marketing tactic in 2018.

In fact, in the survey below, marketers picked it as the “fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method” over organic search, email, paid search, and more.

There’s no questioning the popularity of influencer marketing, especially in recent years.

Marketers seem to be searching for new ways to involve influencers on a variety of campaigns.

And they’re investing in their influencer marketing campaigns, too. The influencer marketing industry is booming.

Projections show that marketers will spend $2.38 billion on influencer marketing on Instagram in 2019. That’s more than a $700 million increase from 2018!

But it doesn’t matter if marketers are fans of influencer marketing. We need to look at the data to see if it works.

Is it truly effective? Are you getting a bang for your buck?

The answer to both questions is still “yes.”

Data shows that influencer marketing is still providing marketers with a strong return on investment. Let’s take a look.

The data shows that influencer marketing generates $6.50 for every dollar a company invests. Approximately 70% of companies earn $2 or more for every dollar, and 13% of companies earn $20 or more.

That’s valuable.

But you might not always be so lucky.

If you look closely, you’ll see that 18% of businesses didn’t receive any return on investment at all. When you factor this into how much a campaign can cost, things can get a little pricey.

This is one reason that many marketers (including myself) wonder how long influencer marketing will remain a viable tactic.

Many factors make the future of influencer marketing uncertain, too.

First, the FTC introduced regulations to “improve disclosures” in 2017. This helps consumers understand which posts are promotional, even if they are coming from an influencer.

While the regulations are needed, additional ones may cause some brands to stray away from influencer marketing due to the risk of malpractice.

Plus, influencer marketing campaigns are starting to get more expensive.

Mid-range influencers with 50,000 – 500,000 followers can charge anywhere from $400 to $2,500 for a post.

Influencers with a following in the millions can charge between $30,000 and $187,500 per post.

With such a large investment in a single post, marketers are expecting a huge ROI.

But there’s only one problem:

Many don’t know how to accurately measure the ROI from their influencer marketing campaigns.

An overwhelming majority (76%) of marketers agree that the biggest challenge of influencer marketing is determining the ROI of campaigns.

How can you improve something if you don’t measure it? Worse yet, how can you even know if it’s working?

But the problem isn’t just with marketers.

Consumers are evolving, too.

The scale has tipped, and millennials are now trusting influencers less than they were in previous years.

Can you blame them, though? After all, think back to the Fyre Festival influencer marketing gaffe.

Influencers including Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski, Whitney Fransway, and many others promoted the event. But it didn’t live up to expectations.

As a result of this failure, 94% of marketers stated they were “not likely” or “very unlikely” to seek out big-name influencers for future projects.

All of these factors play into the unstable future of influencer marketing.

As you continue with influencer marketing campaigns for now, you should also begin to test, expand, and optimize other areas of your marketing strategy.

Here are the alternatives to influencer marketing that you should be focusing on in 2018 to help accelerate the growth of your business.

1. Focus on experiential marketing for live events

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget there’s a whole world “out there.”

Your customers aren’t always online.

Live events can provide a unique touchpoint for your customers that influencer marketing can’t.

And they’re effective, too.

According to a recent study, “79% of brand respondents said they would execute more experiential programs this year compared to last.”

Take Clif Bar as an example.

They focused on creating an experiential marketing activation at Pitchfork Music Festival last year. Their activation included a tattoo parlor, photo booth, and more.

At the event, they distributed 26,000 CLIF bars, and one in 20 social posts with the tag #Pitchforkfest also featured the CLIF bar activation.

Live events provide a unique experience in real life, and their impact often expands onto social media.

HBO tapped into its live event playbook when they debuted their interactive Westworld event at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.

Participants boarded buses and went right outside the city limits for an immersive experience that brought to life the fictional Westworld town from the hit TV series.

The experience was highly detailed and highly personalized. Participants could get their picture printed on a western “Wanted” poster, which aligned well with the brand.

People constantly shared experience on social media during SXSW. It stole the show and earned 62% of the entertainment brand mentions at SXSW.

Live events are an important marketing tactic to help you connect with your customers in a meaningful and authentic way. Influencers simply can’t do that for you.

2. Invest in video content to share your company’s narrative

Video marketing isn’t just flashy, and it isn’t a fad.

It is here to stay, and it can drive serious growth for your business.

Most importantly, though, is that it is becoming mainstream and responsible for a bulk of Internet traffic.

According to estimates, video will make up more than 80% of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021.

Hopefully, you already use video as a part of your content strategy. If not, you’re going to fall behind soon.

In a recent survey, 49.5% of marketers said that video will be a focal point for their marketing.

That’s nearly half of all marketers.

Now, I know what you might be thinking: “My influencer campaigns already use video, so I’m all set.”

Unfortunately, you’re wrong.

You’re missing the chance to focus on everyday people and create meaningful, evergreen content that showcases your brand’s values and embodies your mission.

You can’t rely on influencers to create content that resonates with your audience. You have to do it yourself.

After all, brands often miss opportunities to connect with their customers. A study found that 78% of people feel that brands never connect with them emotionally.

But LinkedIn recently did this well in a documentary-style integrated video campaign. They used the hashtag #InItTogether for it.

Eszylfie Taylor turned his past sales experience into a lesson in life. The more he gives people, the more he gets back. He’s in it to share the wealth. https://t.co/UNiC2JJiF1 #InItTogether pic.twitter.com/5WyqE4ij1l

— LinkedIn (@LinkedIn) January 18, 2018

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Campaign Director Stacy Peralta talked about the impact of the campaign. She said, “I knew from the first reading of the boards that this was one of those rare opportunities.”

She added, “They asked us to tell real stories about real people, they wanted it shot in black and white, and they wanted energy, enthusiasm and candor from the people involved.”

That campaign generated great content for LinkedIn to share with their audience.

But where should you share your video content after you finish creating it? Well, consumers watch and engage with branded content in different ways on different platforms.

It’s important to know which works best for your business, but here are some generalizations across all social platforms for consumer viewing and engagement habits:

As you can see, Facebook has the highest viewership as well as engagement numbers (60% and 49%, respectively), while Twitter has the least (41% and 22%).

The interesting part, though, is that there is only a 2% difference in viewership among the top three platforms: Facebook, Instagram (Video), and Snapchat. YouTube and Twitter fall close behind.

On the engagement side of things, it is much different. Facebook is the clear winner (49%) with YouTube (32%) coming in second. That’s a 17% difference.

So that gives you an idea of where you should be sharing your content. But now, you might be wondering how long your videos should be.

Thankfully, there is data to support the ideal length, and the conclusions are clear as day. Here’s the basic principle:

Make them short.

Approximately 56% of all videos that users shared in 2017 were less than two minutes long.

Viewers will lose interest and likely leave if a video is longer than two minutes.

If you aren’t yet certain that video content can be effective in marketing, look at this experiment from HubSpot. They examined the difference between acquiring customers with video content and non-video content.

They tried switching to video content as opposed to blogs and whitepapers.

As they optimized and emphasized their videos, their views and engagement rates skyrocketed. Here were their engagement rates with their old strategy:

Now, here were their engagement rates after they started emphasizing their video content:

Before this experiment, their videos averaged 50,000 views per month. But in their first month of optimizing and promoting their video content, they achieved 1 million views. Those are clear results!

Another great example is BakedNYC’s video campaign.

BakedNYC used video to capture emails, and their results were fantastic.

Through this campaign, they achieved a 40% increase in pie sales, a 68% increase in leads, and a 30% decrease in cost per lead.

Video content presents a huge opportunity for your brand. But creating quality videos might feel like a daunting task.

Don’t fret if don’t think that you can do this alone. You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg.

There are plenty of tools that can help you create engaging video content on a low budget in a tight timeframe.

One of them is Promo.

I love Promo because they have over 12.5 million clips that you can customize. You can add music, text, and even your logo to personalize the clips and make them your own.

Magisto is another great tool to use.

The cool thing about Magisto is that it has a smart video editor, which makes it incredibly easy to cut and edit your videos online.

These tools can help create great video content that will drive sales on your website.

If you want to get the most out of your marketing efforts in 2018, spend time crafting video promotional campaigns and fine-tuning your video content strategy.

3. Initiate an affiliate marketing program

Not having an effective affiliate marketing program in place is simply leaving money on the table.

Affiliate marketing can bring in a lot of money for your business. To put it in perspective, 15% of the digital media industry’s revenue comes from affiliate marketing.

With affiliate marketing, you’re letting related sites and partners do the work for you.

So, where do you begin?

There are three types of affiliate programs that you can implement:

Pay-per-sale: The merchant pays the affiliate in relation to the number of sales that they received from their site.
Pay-per-click: The merchant pays the affiliate in relation to the number of clicks that visitors performed while browsing the affiliate’s site.
Pay-per-lead: The merchant pays the affiliates in relation to the number of people who sign up.

Affiliate programs succeed in ways that influencer marketing doesn’t. First, it’s usually a win-win for both the affiliate and the merchant because you share the same business goals.

Sites want to send you traffic so that they can earn money. You want the same thing because the affiliate will send you new customers. It’s a win for both of you.

In some cases, influencers don’t share the same mission. They might be just looking for a quick payout, which could lead them to share your campaign in a way that isn’t authentic or true to their brand or yours.

The Points Guy is an example of a company that has a strong affiliate marketing program in place.

He started his site as a place to show people how to travel by using points they’ve amassed from purchases. Now, the site is an affiliate site for credit cards, hotels, and flights.

In his AMA, he confirmed that he receives “2.5 million monthly unique views and gets $50-$400 per credit card someone signs up for.”

As a business, you can harness the traffic that is already in place for a well-oiled site. By giving them a little kickback, you both win.

They’ll make money, and you’ll acquire a new customer. It’s really a no-brainer.

4. Be responsive on social media and circulate user-generated content

If you’re reading this blog, I’d go out on a limb to say you have, at the very least, a presence on social media.

While influencers typically utilize social media to propel their efforts, sometimes taking matters into your own hands can retain customers and have a more profound impact on your sales.

Social media marketing has been an important part of any marketing strategy over the years, and it only continues to evolve in 2018.

Your customers are already hanging out on there. New data shows that a majority of Americans are now on Facebook and YouTube.

Once again, this fact reinforces your need for video content.

But how else can you use social media to grow your audience and increase sales? One important answer is quite simple:

By being responsive.

Data shows that companies can make a dramatic effect on their bottom lines if they are responsive and engaging on social media.

Consumers say that the best way for a brand to get them to make a purchase is by simply being responsive.

If you respond on social media, people will talk about your positive customer service interactions. Studies found that approximately 48% of people tell their friends about a good customer experience on social media.

This creates a powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing. Your customers’ friends can soon become your new customers.

Facebook understand how impatient people are. They’re now labeling pages with badges that designate their response times.

To get the coveted “Very responsive to messages” badge, you need to achieve two things over the course of seven days:

A response rate of 90%
A response time of 15 minutes

But what if you get a lot of inquiries? How should you keep up with all of them?

Mention is a tool that can help you streamline your customer experience operations on social media.

It can provide assistance and organize your mentions in an easy-to-read way so that you aren’t overwhelmed.

An example of exemplary customer service on social media would be JetBlue.

Before things got out of hand, they moved quickly and efficiently to resolve the situation, resulting in a happy, satisfied customer who might buy again.

But that’s not all. JetBlue cares so much about their customer service that they announced a partnership and investment in the customer service startup Gladly.

Here’s what Bonny Simi, the president of JetBlue’s corporate venture group, said about their customer service strategy:

“People just don’t want to call in anymore, so we are aiming for omnichannel communication that is on at all hours.”

He added, “[This communication should] take advantage of AI to resolve customers’ issues as quickly as possible, and that will work with all of the important messenger apps.”

As you work on being responsive on social media, you’ll want to circulate the incredible content (photos, videos, and comments) and great accolades that your users are sharing. User-generated content is incredibly valuable.

Sponsors generally pay influencers to post about their products or content. User-generated content, on the other hand, has no financial incentive.

It makes your brand more authentic.

And it’s needed now more than ever.

Research shows that “92 percent of consumers trust organic, user-generated content (UGC) more than they trust traditional advertising.”

Currently, Southwest Airlines is running a user-generated campaign that they call 175 Stories. This integrated campaign invites customers to share their seat story using the hashtag #175Stories.

They even launched a microsite to further share the content.

Judging by a quick hashtag search, the campaign seems to be effective.

Encouraging users to act as your own photographers and share their content can have a positive impact on your business’s growth.

An active presence on social media is not only beneficial to your customers. It can also do wonders for your brand awareness and revenue.

5. Leverage social messaging apps to reach more customers and connect with existing ones

Mobile messaging marketing has emerged as a new trend in 2018.

It seems like social messaging apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and many others) are all the craze these days.

And honestly, they should be.

Influencer marketing shares one message with many people. By using social messaging apps, you can send numerous highly-personalized messages to many people.

Users and businesses on Facebook send approximately 8 billion messages on Messenger every month.

The best part is that they usually have high open and click-through rates, too.

The growth of these messaging apps has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2017, over 76% of smartphone users worldwide used messaging apps.

The graph also shows that, according to current projections, there will be 2.48 billion mobile phone messaging app users by 2021.

If you want to be where your customers are, then you should think about how you’re leveraging your messaging app strategy.

But what’s interesting is that not all marketers, for some reason or another, aren’t using this as a marketing tactic.

The State of Social 2018” study found that, despite the increase in interest and adoption of messaging apps, nearly 80% of businesses don’t market through them at all.

That’s bad for them, but it’s great for you.

Fewer businesses promoting their messages means a greater chance of yours cutting through the clutter.

Messaging apps are a great place to distribute content and offer promotional deals directly to your customers.

Look at how DigitalMarketer used a chatbot to distribute their “Ending the War Between Sales & Marketing” report.

Those interested in the report could connect their Facebook with just a simple click. Then, an automated message would arrive in their Messenger account with a link to the report.

It’s quick, easy, and even feels a little personal.

But this isn’t just a flashy way to distribute content.

It gets results, too.

For example, look at this retargeting campaign that used a chatbot to allow customers to “unlock a special discount.”

The results were incredible. They achieved a 48.2x ROAS (up from 5.6x) and a 1133% conversion rate increase.

HolidayPirates saw incredible success when they used a chatbot to deliver a promotion code to their customers.

They have over nine million digital followers, and they wanted to interact with them on social messaging platforms and send them a holiday promotion.

They grew their WhatsApp following to 750,000+ and achieved open rates of 50-60% and 90% click-through rates for the campaign.

A 90% click-through rate?

That’s something you don’t see every day.

To get a chatbot set up, you just need to follow a few easy steps.

For this example, I’m going to use itsalive.io.

First, visit their homepage and click on “Get Started for Free.”

Then, fill out the information they ask for to register your account.

From there, choose your plan and hit “Next.”

Name and describe your bot, and then hit “Create this bot.”

Click on the pencil icon to edit the test bot that you get by default.

Add your trigger and text. Triggers can vary from keywords to events. You can then program what you’d like the bot to do.

You can add as many triggers and texts as you’d like.

In this case, I am setting up the bot to answer FAQs.

Then, click the back button and select “Link to Facebook” in the menu.

From there, you’ll want to “Connect to your Facebook account” and select your business page.

Take special note of the test code as well. You will have to add that four-character code when you test your bot.

Then, you can test your bot and see it in action for yourself.

Continue to tweak your bot until it accomplishes your business objectives.

Due to the widespread adoption of messaging apps and the generally untapped potential of social messaging marketing, your business could cut directly through the clutter with this tactic.

You should really consider how you can leverage it to reach new customers.

6. Continue to invest in your email marketing strategy

You might be thinking, “Email marketing. That’s so old school.”

While that may be true, it’s still a viable marketing tactic that you should double down on.

One advantage is that you can control and target your audience with email marketing better than you can with influencer marketing.

Emails are part of everyday life, and using them as a marketing medium gets results. After all, users send 149,000+ emails each day.

That might sound like a lot of clutter, and it is. But it’s important that you keep your business top of mind in your customers’ inboxes.

But why?

Email still has the highest ROI when you compare it to any other marketing tactic.

For every $1 businesses spend on email marketing, they average a $38 return.

Notice how email marketing soars ahead of affiliate marketing, paid search, display ads, videos, social media marketing, and traditional marketing tactics.

If you want to assess the ROI of your email marketing campaigns, I recommend this email marketing ROI tool.

It’s very easy to use and can provide great insights into your current email marketing efforts.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeRnQlUrwl4?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Marketers even collectively agree that email has staying power in 2018.

In one survey, marketing professionals rated the effectiveness of digital marketing channels. Approximately 35% gave email marketing a “good” rating, and 18% rated it as “excellent.”

This put email marketing in the lead as one of the most effective digital marketing channels according to marketers.

In 2018, you need to have an email marketing strategy in place and execute highly-personalized and targeted campaigns.

Customers are expecting this in all marketing tactics, but especially in email. If you haven’t targeted your email, they’ll consider it irrelevant to them. You can bet they’ll delete it.

Even worse, they might not open it.

A total of 49% of shoppers said that personalization “has led shoppers to purchase an item that wasn’t planned.”

By personalizing your copy, messaging, design, and even your pricing structure, you can encourage conversions and move customers to buy.

You can do this by segmenting your lists (separating your lists to ensure the correct campaign is going to the right audience) and using dynamic copy or pricing.

How do you make sure that you’ve personalized your email campaigns and that you’re sending them to the right people?

That’s what the men’s shirt company Twillory had to answer.

The team initiated an email campaign when they moved into a larger warehouse. They sent the below email to their first-tier recipients and achieved a 48.5% open rate and an 8% CTR.

To their less-engaged tier, they stripped the graphic away and took a simpler, personalized, text-based approach.

This resulted in “a 33% open rate and 11% click-through rate with a group of people who had not engaged in over 270 days.”

That’s a significant impact for their email marketing efforts.

If you want to effectively reach your customers, then deploy smart, personalized, and targeted email marketing campaigns.

Conclusion

Influencer marketing isn’t dead.

At least, it isn’t dead yet.

For now, it still can perform as a viable part of your marketing strategy. The influencer marketing industry is still booming, and it’s still profitable in many cases.

But it may not be around for much longer. It’s becoming increasingly expensive, there’s no guarantee of results, it’s difficult to track the ROI of campaigns, and users are beginning to trust influencers less.

You need to prepare for alternate ways to acquire customers.

Turn to video content to share a compelling narrative about your brand or help put a product on display.

Engage with customers directly on social media. Go out of your way to provide out-of-this-world service experiences that will turn your customers into passionate fans.

Focus on messenger marketing and directly share content, promotions, and solutions through messaging apps.

Finally, double down on email marketing. But as you do so, make sure that you target the right audience and personalize your messages with dynamic content.

If you do all of this, you’ll be ready if the days of influencer marketing come to an end.

What marketing tactics will you use in place of influencer marketing in 2018?

The post Is Influencer Marketing Dead? A Hard Look at The Newest Data (and What You Can Do Instead) appeared first on Neil Patel.

0

The Advanced SEO Formula That Helped Me Rank For 477,000 Keywords

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/keyword-research-formula/

Can you guess how many keywords I rank for?

Well, you are probably going to say 477,000 because I used that number in the title of this post. 😉

And it’s true, just look at the screenshot from Ahrefs. It shows the number of keywords I rank for.

But what’s crazy is that I am in a super competitive niche… digital marketing.

So, are you wondering how I did it?

Well, it starts with proper keyword research.

See most marketers start their keyword research with tools like SEMrush or Ubersuggest and they type in a keyword like “SEO”. You then get a list back with hundreds of keyword suggestions with cost per click and competition data.

And once you have a list of keywords you like, you probably do what most marketers do, which is to start inserting them into your website or creating content around the keywords.

Does this process sound familiar?

Well, of course, it does because that’s what everyone has been teaching you to do.

But what’s wrong with this?

This process is like gambling… there’s no guarantee that you’ll rank for these new keywords. And even worse, those keywords may not generate you any leads, sales, or revenue.

But thankfully, I have a process for you that will not only help you rank for thousands of keywords, but it will also ensure that this new-found traffic converts into leads, sales, and more revenue.

Here’s the 5-step process that helped me rank for 477,000 keywords.

Step #1: Focus on the pages that drive revenue

Going after the right keywords won’t guarantee you success.

If you rank a page that isn’t converting well, you’ll get more traffic, but your revenue won’t go up.

Sure, you can eventually focus on conversion rate optimization and try to fix that over time, but you are better off driving traffic to pages that are already generating you revenue.

If you haven’t setup goal tracking, watch the video below as it will teach you how.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceTVejpbYK0?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Assuming you set it correctly, let’s look for the pages that are driving your revenue.

You can see from the image above, I sorted the results by conversions.

You now have a list of pages to focus on. But it isn’t as easy as just picking the top page and going from there.

For example, your top page could be a “check out” page, which, of course, won’t do any good if you rank it higher.

Instead, you should focus on:

Product pages
Service pages
Content pages

Once you have a final list of pages, you’ll want to take those URLs and look them up in your Google Search Console.

Step #2: Log into Google Search Console

Once you’re in Google Search Console, you’ll want to click on, “Search Traffic > Search Analysis”.

This will lead you to a report that looks something like this.

You’ll then want to click on the “Pages” option as it will sort the results by top pages.

At this point, you’ll have to go through your list of pages and find them within Google Search Console.

Once you find one of the pages, click on the URL and then select “Queries” at the top.

This will give you an overview of the specific terms that generate traffic to your high converting pages.

Now let’s download the data in CSV format and open it with Excel.

Once you load it up, it should look something like this.

I want you to first sort the data by impressions. Look for the keywords that are generating the highest impression count as those keywords have the potential to drive the most traffic.

If you feel those keywords are relevant to your product or service that you are offering, make sure you include them within the title tag of your website.

You won’t be able to add all of the keywords to your title tag because it is limited to roughly 60 characters, but adding a few of the most popular terms will ensure that you are going to get higher click-through rates, which will boost your overall search rankings.

Once you’ve adjusted your title tag, let’s do the same with your meta description.

Meta descriptions can be longer these days. Google is ok with roughly 300 characters. So, feel free to sprinkle in a few more keywords, but make sure your meta description still flows in a readable sentence.

And before we get back to the Excel sheet, let’s expand your content by adding in some of the keywords you don’t rank high up on page 1 but should.

You can do this by adding more content to your page, or if you can insert the keywords without “stuffing” them in (just make sure your content flows and provides value).

Now let’s head back over to Excel. You should see a filter icon that looks something like this:

Select column E, as this will select all of the keywords based on their rankings. Then click on the “sort & filter button” and then select “filter”.

You’ll see a table that pops up. Unselect any numbers that are 1, 2, or 3.

You’ll also want to unselect any number that is 11 or greater. This will show you all of the keywords ranking on page 1 that are NOT in position 1, 2 or 3.

These are the keywords that have the most potential as the top 3 positions generate 20.5%, 13.32%, and 13.14% of the clicks respectfully. You want to be in the top 3 spots as that is where the majority of the clicks are happening.

By, having a list of keywords that are in position 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10… you can now focus on moving them up.

You’ve already done the hardest part which is getting on page 1. It’s not that much more work to get into the top 3 spots (at least for most keywords).

You’ll want to take all of the keywords that are relevant to your page and see if you can blend them into your content or headings without ruining the user experience.

This may mean that you’ll have to re-write your content and make it double the length.

Or if you have a product or service page that you are trying to rank higher, it may mean that you can’t include all of the keywords as it will ruin the user experience and hurt your conversion rate (but you can probably include a few more).

Over time you’ll find that your rankings will slowly climb for keywords that will bring in more revenue.

Step #3: Add in related keywords

You know what’s one thing I love about Google? They are really generous when it comes to giving marketers data. From Google Analytics to Google Search Console… Google has some amazing tools!

Another product I love (technically it’s more of a feature) is that Google shows you all of the related keywords to the ones you are already ranking for.

This is going to be a manual grind, but it’s worth it.

Log into Google Search Console and look at the top 10 keywords that you rank for. You can get this data by clicking on “Search Traffic > Search Analytics”.

Make sure you exclude any branded terms and compile a list of your top 10 terms.

Now go to Google, type in each of these keywords manually and scroll to the bottom where it says, “related keywords”.

Google gives you a list of other popular terms that people are typing. What is beautiful about this list, is that these keywords are already related to the one you are ranking for and they are typically much easier to rank for.

So, for neilpatel.com, I already rank for the term “SEO.”

So Google is telling me that in addition to the word “SEO,” people are also searching for:

what is seo and how it works
seo definition
what is seo marketing
how to do seo
seo wiki
seo google
seo tutorial
seo company

As you can see I already integrated some of those phrases to the page on my website that already ranks for SEO.

You should do the same. It’s an easy way to rank for more relevant keywords, boost your traffic, and, eventually, your revenue.

If you do this for your top 10 keywords, you’ll have an additional list of 80 keywords (8 keywords per term).

And by integrating these terms into your site (only when it makes sense, don’t spam) you’ll quickly rank on page 1 for dozens of other terms.

If you want to go crazy like me, you can do this for 1,000 terms, which will then give you suggestions for an additional 80,000 keywords!

But again, don’t force it and ruin your user experience. This will hurt your conversion rate. You should only add keywords when it is natural and makes sense for the user.

And hopefully, you selected keywords from pages that are driving your revenue (remember Step 1!). The last thing you want is to spend time increasing your rankings and find that your revenue isn’t going up.

Step #4: Go after the low-hanging fruit

Have you noticed that there is a huge difference in traffic between the pages on your site that rank on page 2 compared to the content ranking on page 1?

Like most marketers, you probably don’t notice it because your pages that rank on page 2 of Google don’t get much traffic… which causes you to forget about them.

It’s sad but true.

So, let’s fix this!

Log into SEMrush, type in your domain name, and click on “Organic Research > Positions”.

You’ll want to look for all of the terms that you rank number 11 or 12 for.

You can do this by using the filter setting (just copy the settings in the screenshot below).

You’ll have a list of keywords that are almost on page one.

Now just make sure those keywords are pointing to pages that are responsible for driving your sales, leads, and revenue (go back to step 1 if you don’t know how to do this).

For the keywords that aren’t driving sales or leads, you can ignore them for now.

For one the ones pointing to pages that are driving sales or leads, perform a Google search for each of those keywords.

Now compile a list of web pages that are ranking above you.

Take those URLs and plug them into Ahrefs. Once you plug in each URL, click on “Backlinks” in the left navigation bar.

This will show you a list of sites linking to your competition.

I want you to get in touch with each of those sites and beg for a link. Here’s an email template you can use (you’ll have to modify it to fit your site).

Hey [Insert website owners name],

I noticed that you are linking to [insert competing web page] from [insert the URL of on their website linking to the competition]. Did you know that the page you are linking to isn’t the best resource for your website readers?

It’s missing [insert multiple points on what that competing page lacks].

If you want to provide an even better experience for your website readers, you should consider linking to [insert your URL that you want to rank higher] as it has [insert why your web page better than the competition].

Cheers,

[Insert your name]

You’ll find that after emailing hundreds of sites that only 3% to 5% will link back to you assuming your page is comparable to the competition.

If you can’t get at least 3% to link back it means that you either didn’t do a good job modifying the email template or your page sucks compared to your competition. 🙁

I know this is tedious work, but it’s a great way to boost your traffic.

Just think about this stat when doing the link outreach… 91% of searches never go to page 2. Or as my sales team says, page 2 is the perfect place to bury a dead body.

Step #5: Attract buyers before they are ready to buy

Another reason I love Google is that they have this neat tool called Google Correlate.

What Google Correlate does is shows you search patterns. In other words, they show you what your customers are typing in weeks or even months before they become customers.

And if you want to upsell your users, you can use Google Correlate to see what your customers type in weeks or months after they become a customer.

This will help you determine what products or services to offer assuming you want that upsell revenue.

Here’s how it works… let’s say you are selling beard oil. You type in “beard oil” into Google Correlate and you can see what people are typing in before they become customers.

As you can see some of the keywords people are typing in are…

beard oil
beard oils
flannel outfits
trek farley
sweater crop
beard products
best beard oil
sweater crop top
acne studios
what is beard

To get those results I got, I selected “-3” weeks.

I am looking at what people typed in 3 weeks before they searched in beard oil. That’s why I put a “-” sign before the number 3 to see what they typed in before they searched for my main keyword.

If you want to attract more customers and build brand loyalty with people who may be interested in beard oil products, I would create content around the best beard oil or flannel outfits that go well with beards.

That’s what I got from the Google Correlate data.

And if I wanted to figure out what products to create in order to upsell my beard oil customers, I would perform the same search on Google Correlate but use a positive number such as “2 weeks.”

Based on the data above, I would consider offering beard balm as an upsell as there seems to be a strong correlation.

The cool part about Google Correlate is that you can do this for any keyword and sort the results by the country you are targeting.

Conclusion

I know my method of keyword search is a pain in the butt, but it works.

Just think of it this way…

Creating content on new topics is hard because there is no guarantee a new page on your website will rank for competitive terms.

But if you take web pages that already have traction and you improve them using the techniques I described above, it’s a guaranteed way to generate more search traffic.

Now if you want to create content that focuses on new keywords, by all means, you should do so!

I am not saying that creating new content is a bad idea… heck, I do it all the time.

But consider creating new content after you modify your existing pages that are already driving your traffic and sales.

And when you do go after new terms, don’t forget to use Google Correlate as it will help you gain the right type of traffic (plus your competition isn’t doing it).

So, what do you think of my keyword research and SEO process that I used to rank for thousands of keywords?

The post The Advanced SEO Formula That Helped Me Rank For 477,000 Keywords appeared first on Neil Patel.

0

Why Businesses Can’t Ignore Google AMP Stories

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/google-amp-stories/

The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project was launched by Google in February of 2016 with the goal of putting mobile performance above everything else on the web.

And Google definitely met their goal.

AMP powers more than two billion mobile pages and 900,000 different domains. Pages with AMP now load twice as fast as pages without added AMP elements.

If you think you can ignore AMP, you’re wrong. AMP has some pretty awesome features and benefits that can take your content creation efforts to the next level.

If you don’t take the time to understand or use AMP stories, you’re missing out.

Here’s why businesses can’t afford to ignore them.

But first, let’s analyze what AMP stories truly are.

What are AMP Stories?

Google’s AMP stories features allow publishers to create content that is very similar to Instagram stories, designed with mobile websites in mind.

But the content created with AMP doesn’t get added to an app. Instead, it’s placed right in search results pages.

AMP is an open-source project that was created in response to the fact that mobile users now spend more time on apps than in websites.

77% of their time, to be exact, according to Statista data.

With AMP, content loads extremely fast, which helps keep mobile users on those pages and off of their apps.

Instead of regular search engine results, users receive a swipeable story that’s easy to navigate. The UX is somewhat similar to the popular dating app, Tinder.

AMP partners include CNN, Mic, Wired, The Washington Post, Mashable, and People.

Beyond loading at lightning fast speeds, AMP Stories can also be shared in the same way news articles are shared.

Here’s a breakdown of how they work.

How Accelerated Mobile Pages Work

Today, JavaScript can be used on almost any web page to modify any portion of it.

But it also slows the loading and rendering of pages. And since page speed is so important (we’ll talk more about that later), that’s something you want to avoid.

AMP only allows for asynchronous JavaScript to run on pages, meaning that the JavaScript code won’t block any other code present on your site.

JavaScript written by the webmaster is forbidden on AMP stories, and interactive pages must only contain custom AMP elements.

Custom elements can consist of JavaScript at their core, but they must be specifically designed to make sure that they don’t cause any restrictions on the overall performance of a page.

Third-party JavaScript is also allowed with AMP, but it cannot block page rendering.

AMP also does not allow for any kind of extension mechanisms to block page rendering, but it can be used for Instagram embeds, tweets, or lightboxes.

Because of this, users can swipe through mobile-optimized content on AMP pages without all of the unnecessary distractions.

As you can already tell, there are a lot of reasons why AMP stories are growing fast.

Why Should You Use AMP Stories?

Some of your competition is probably consistently using AMP.

If you aren’t, you might as well be accepting defeat.

On the other hand, if you start using AMP protocols before your competitors, you’ll differentiate yourself as a frontrunner in your industry.

Why? Because AMP features can help you tell stories, and storytelling is powerful.

Storytelling is Powerful

Everyone loves a good story.

At least 100,500 digital words are consumed by the average U.S. citizen in one day, while 92% of consumers want to view and read ads that feel like stories.

There is some evidence out there that suggests that people view AMP stories much longer than they view traditional alternatives.

This could be because faster loading times make it easier to view more content for a longer period of time.

AMP lets you tell stories in a powerful, fast, unique way. And when you tell a good story well, you’ll be able to reach your audience effectively.

Speak to your readers’ needs, give each piece an interesting arc, and don’t forget to add in all of the hard data needed to prove your point.

Page speed plays a huge role in AMPs success, too.

Page Speed is Important

Site speed is important. Pages that take a long time to load can kill your conversions. If your site takes a while to load, you’ll rack up less and less conversions.

Luckily, AMP pages load about twice as fast as regular mobile pages.

With such quick loading times, customers will be able to get to your content faster than ever before.

This is great news, since the probability of a bounce increases by 32% if a mobile page takes as long as three seconds to load.

If it takes five seconds, the probability of a bounce increases by 90%.

Because of the quick loading times provided by AMP, users will be more likely to go ahead and buy from you.

When they know they can interact with your brand without any friction or wait time, they’ll be willing to trust you with their money.

To make the case for AMP even stronger, Google tends to give faster loading mobile pages special treatment and better rankings.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H1DnE6rhJY?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Take advantage of the creative design features offered by AMP to keep viewers engaged and intrigued.

Take Advantage of Creative Design

In case you didn’t already know, design is important. And AMP pages let you add in creative elements that take your content to the next level.

Don’t be afraid to add forms, buttons, videos, images, shopping options, or links to your AMP stories.

Your site will look much more sleek and functional, giving you tons of opportunities to attract, engage, and hold your viewers’ attention.

AMP can give your site the SEO boost it needs.

AMP Helps SEO

AMPs give your site a huge visibility boost.

As of right now, a page with AMP protocols won’t increase your site’s page authority or domain authority.

That being said, it does give the page a chance to be featured in the AMP carousel that appears above traditional Google search results.

This means that if your site shows up in the carousel, it will appear before the number one placement.

It doesn’t get any better than placing before the number one spot, does it?

This can give you the big boost in organic search results that you need, bringing more traffic to your site than ever before.

Next, let’s break down all of the moving parts that make AMPs so great.

Introducing the AMP Story Features

Traditional AMP content relies solely on text, but the new and improved format includes videos, animation, and images to give users a full experience.

For publishers, you can:

Embed your stories across apps and websites
Access stories via both desktop and mobile
Tell stories without needing to have a ton of technical knowledge

The best part? AMPs are free for everyone to try.

Let’s examine all of the parts involved in completing an AMP story.

Parts of an AMP story

Before you can create your first AMP story, you have to master all of its components.

Every story is structured with individual pages. Each page consists of individual layers that are made up of a combination of HTML code and AMP elements.

Here’s how the components will look when added to your code:

Story = amp-story
Page = amp-story-page
Layers = amp-story-grid-layer

When added to a page, the code might look something like this:

The story component contains your entire AMP story, while the page component contains each specific page that exists within your story.

The layers component contains all of the elements that are present on a page.

Here are some examples of a few AMP stories.

Examples of Google AMP Stories

It’s no secret that Google will link to AMP versions of web pages over traditional ones any time that they’re available because Google prefers them.

Because of this, every AMP partner has used the feature of the service to suit their strengths.

The most commonly known AMP adapters were news organizations since they could use AMPs to get information out quickly and effectively to searchers.

Here are examples of how CNN has utilized AMP stories to share and amplify breaking news:

Some publishers have even written AMP stories over the exact same kinds of content (with the same cover photo):

But AMPs aren’t just for news sites. You can turn your long-form content into an AMP if you want to. And you should.

What are people saying about AMP, overall?

What People Are Saying About It

AMP Product Manager Rudy Galfi recently told AdWeek that AMP stories “should make for a really engaging ad format.”

But what does everyone else seem to think about publishing content with AMP?

Econsultancy writer Stuart Shaw says that while AMP pages require some maintenance, the payoff and exposure that they provide is well worth it.

In an April 2018 post, he wrote:

“Sure, all you’ve done is improve things for your mobile users – and only on the few scant pages that you’ve implemented AMP on…But optimization isn’t about making things perfect in an instant It’s a gradual process that must adapt to the ever-changing ‘techscape’ that is search.”

In general, reactions to AMP on sites like Twitter are fairly positive. Some people are calling AMP one of the most important trends of 2018.

Others really love the recent changes and updates to AMP, like Gumpo, who says “We love this as a way of delivering interactive content with rich visuals.”

In September of 2017, SEO company Optimising had this to say about AMPs on Facebook:

“We love Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) here at Optimising.”

The experts at Search Engine Journal have some awesome tips on how implementing AMP for eCommerce sites can help improve users’ experience and boost conversions.”

Overall, it looks like AMP is here to stay.

Here’s how you can get started creating your own AMP stories.

How to Get Started With Google AMP Stories

Now that you know what AMP stories are, how they work, why you should use them, and what people are saying about them, you can get down to business creating your own.

To get started, download the code.

1. Download the code

In order for Google to pick up on the AMP version of your articles, you have to modify the code of the article page.

The original article must have the following tag, which is an AMP canonical tag:

<link rel=”amphtml” href=”http://www.example.com/blog-post/amp/”>

If you want all of the AMP code you need all from one page, click over to the amp-wp GitHub page and select the “Download ZIP” button.

Then, install this code on your WordPress site just like any WordPress plugin.

Alternatively, you can also download the following code from AMP directly and save it to a file with a .html extension.

Once your code is downloaded and added, you can run the sample page.

2. Run the sample page

In order to test out your sample page, you’ll need to access your files from a server.

There are a few ways you can create a temporary local web server to help you test it:

“Web Server for Chrome” Google Chrome app
Apache
A local HTTP Python server
Nginx

AMP recommends that you use HTTPS, here, for added security.

After you set up a local web server, you can access your sample article by heading to this URL:
http://localhost:8000/article.html.

If everything looks good, go ahead and create the cover page.

3. Create the cover page

Your cover page is represented with the tag.

You can have more than one components within a story, which contain each of the individual screens for that story.

But the first page that you specify will act as the cover page.

To create a cover page, assign a unique ID for your cover to the first page:

<amp-story standalone>
<amp-story-page id=”cover”>
</amp-story-page>
</amp-story>

That code acts as a shell for your cover page. But you need to specify at least one layer to make it valid.

Layers in AMP work similarly to layers in graphics: they consist of different elements stacked on top of one another.

In the example above, layer one contains the image that serves as the cover photo, while layer two contains the title and byline of the story.

To create layer one, add the <amp-story-grid-layer> element to <amp-story-page>.

If you want the image to fill the screen, add the template=”fill” attribute to the amp-story-grid-layer tag.

Inside the layer, add the <amp-image> element for a cover.jpg file and make sure it’s responsive by adding the tag layout=”responsive”.

Here’s what the code for the first layer should look like when it’s all said and done:

Check how the page displays before moving on.

To add a second layer, use the “vertical template” instead of the “fill template” found here.

Once your cover page is complete, you can add more pages.

4. Add more pages

Adding more pages is similar to adding your sample page and cover page.

The code you use will depend on the template you choose.

To add text to a layer with the vertical template, add something similar to the following elements:

An <h1> element containing the title
A responsive amp-img
A <q> element that contains all of your text

Your new page should come out looking something like this:

You can also add animating elements to enhance your story.

5. Add animating elements

If you want to take your story to the next level, you can make your title drop into a page, fade in, twirl in, and so on.

The AMP framework currently includes the following preset animating elements:

If you want to add an animation to an element, add animate-in=”animationpresetcodehere”.

For example, to use the pulse animation, your code might look like this:

<amp-story-page id=”page3″>

<amp-story-grid-layer template=”vertical”>
<p animate-in=”pulse”>Pulse this text into the page </p>
</amp-story-page>

Once you’ve added animating elements, you’re ready to create the bookend.

6. Create the bookend

The “bookend” is the last screen that wraps up your story.

You can use it to add related links or social sharing links, too.

In your amp-story elements, add the bookend-config-src attribute. Then, point it toward the bookend.json file.

<amp-story standalone
bookend-config-src=”bookend.json”>

</amp-story>

Your bookend should look something like this when you’re finished:

Finally, you’re ready to validate your AMP HTML.

7. Validate your AMP HTML

There are a number of ways to validate your AMP pages.

For example, you can use the Chrome DevTools console:

Open your page in a browser
Add “#development=1” to your URL
Open the Chrome DevTools console and check for any validation errors

You can also use the AMP Validator browser extension.

Both tools will show you any issues with your AMP code and describe ways to repair them.

Here are three quick tips to keep in mind when creating AMP stories.

3 Quick Tips

To make a great AMP story, you’ll need to add videos, text, pictures, or all of the above.

Here are some quick and easy ways to save yourself some time in the process.

For videos

It’s not uncommon to add a click-to-play overlay on videos across the web. You can use it to add a custom play icon that matches your page’s style along with the title of your video.

AMP stories don’t come with this feature automatically added.

However, you can easily add it with a tag like:

<div id=”myOverlay”
class=”click-to-play-overlay”>

For text, you may want to manage the size or fit to make certain text fit within a specified area.

For text

The amp-fit-text component lets you manage the size or fit of text within a specified area, which is perfect if you don’t want to play around with font sizes all day.

The component finds the best font size to fit content in the available space automatically, so you don’t have to.

Some HTML image tags can become problematic when it comes to AMP.

For pictures

Most HTML tags can be added directly in AMP HTML.

That being said, some tags (like the <img> tag) are sometimes replaced with enhanced AMP HTML tags. A few problematic HTML tags are banned completely.

Instead of the <img> tag, be sure to use <amp-img>, which has an end tag.

You can view the full list of AMP tag conversions here.

Conclusion

AMP was created by Google to put mobile first in search engine results pages and across the web.

AMP stories are similar to Instagram stories, and tons of well-known companies are dominating the Internet with them. If you think you can ignore them, you’re wrong.

Billions of mobile pages are powered by AMPs. Those pages load twice as fast as before because JavaScript code isn’t allowed to slow them down.

There are plenty of reasons to use AMP stories. They can help improve your storytelling efforts, boost page speeds, improve your site’s creative design, and help SEO efforts.

There are three parts to an AMP story: the story, the page(s), and the layer(s).

Huge media sites like CNN are using AMPs to share breaking news, while other sites are using them to share their long-form or video content.

And the reactions to AMP are positive overall. Most people are calling it the next big thing of 2018. Publishers love it.

To get started creating AMP stories, download the code, run a sample page, create your cover page, add more pages and animating elements, create the bookend, and validate your HTML.

If any issues are uncovered when you validate your AMP code, fix them immediately.

To save some time, there are a few quick tips and tricks you can use when adding videos, text, and pictures to your stories.

Add a custom click-to-play overlay for videos, use the amp-fit-text component to automatically size your text, and never try to use <img> tags. Instead, use <amp-img>.

Now, go forward and put mobile users first on your site, too.

Which piece of content are you going to turn into an AMP story first?

The post Why Businesses Can’t Ignore Google AMP Stories appeared first on Neil Patel.

0

Why Problem Solving Should Be The Only Value Proposition You Use

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/problem-solving-value-proposition/

There’s more than one reason why people love brands like P&G, Warby Parker, and Apple.

But, can you guess what these three brands have in common?

They all solve consumer problems.

P&G invented a better way to mop with the Swiffer.

Warby Parker created affordable, stylish glasses.

Steve Jobs of Apple introduced the iPhone as a “smarter mobile device.”

These brands manufactured their own value propositions by solving problems. They are creative problem solvers.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOEyzksl_NM?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

In the spirit of these creative problem solvers, I’m going to analyze the concept of designing a value proposition by thinking outside the box with problem-solving.

But before we dig in, we first need to understand how we got to this point.

We used to live in a world where “marketing strategies” boiled down to bombarding audiences with messages about how your product was the best.

If that seems a bit simplistic to you, that’s because it was.

And that begs an obvious question: Did it actually work?

It absolutely did.

Why did it work? Well, it was largely because of the media channels that dominated consumer attention.

Television and radio promotion had a massive impact on the effectiveness of a brand’s marketing efforts. Television advertising alone accounted for 2% of the US GDP beyond 1950.

And if I had to point to one thing that made these kinds of marketing strategies so successful, it would be the culture of the traditional consumer.

Passive media channels were a staple of that culture. Television and radio were constantly interrupting the user experience to throw in some ads.

With no other options available, the traditional consumer got used to the idea of repetitive ads being a part of daily life.

But all of that changed once the Internet started gaining traction.

Embrace the nature of digital media

The marketing rules of engagement changed suddenly and completely.

The experience went from passive to interactive. The average person gained the ability to pick and choose what marketing content they consumed with a simple little search engine:

This transition would end up determining the future of digital marketing strategies and fundamentally changing the way businesses communicate with consumers.

And it’s not that surprising when you stop and think about it.

In a world where ads were the status quo, consumers didn’t have much of a choice.

But the moment consumers became aware of a life without ads was the moment traditional marketing began its quiet death.

It’s how we ended up here today with 615 million devices that use adblock and 59% of millennials skipping ads on YouTube.

With their 92 million consumers, Spotify has a large usership that doesn’t even mind paying extra for ad-free streaming services.

Of course, all of this speaks to a bigger issue.

To put it bluntly, the modern consumer plays by a different set of rules.

They reject the idea that a jingle or a self-promotional TV spot should be enough to earn their business.

If you want their attention, you’ll need to give them something that traditional marketing strategies can’t: real value.

Real value is about problem-solving

At this point, some small business owners might say, “Isn’t my product/service value enough?”

Well, the answer is yes and no.

Real value isn’t about how often you self-promote. It’s about problem-solving.

Having a valuable product or service is important, and it always will be. There’s no doubt about that.

Buffer didn’t become Buffer just because they had a nice interface. They built a brand around offering a social media solution for consumers looking for an easier way to share content.

There’s a reason Buffer has 82,156 paying customers. They have a 19-person advocacy team that helps their customer solve problems.

In this highly competitive, ever-changing digital media landscape, you need to stand out before and after the sale.

One of the easiest ways to convey the problem you are solving is with content marketing.

Particularly on social media, content is the key to developing a relationship with consumers.

Audiences are in constant need of new content that’s worth their time.

And when you’re trying to solve problems with your content, there’s one approach that just about every small business can get behind:

Educational content.

It’s the cornerstone of most successful brand blogs, and that’s for good reasons.

Sites like NerdWallet pride themselves on their ability to provide users with this kind of content.

NerdWallet ranks for more than 1.3 million keywords in the personal finance advice industry.

Here’s what NerdWallet’s VP of Content, Maggie Leung, explained during an interview:

“At NerdWallet we see content people as an investment.”

But getting here isn’t easy.

To begin content ideation to achieve NerdWallet-status, you have to understand your audience.

And, to better understand your audience, you’ll need to use tools and strategies to help generate content ideas.

Your content isn’t just convenient. It’s the backbone of online authority, and it gives you the opportunity to connect with consumers.

And that leads us to the most important reason to focus on educational content:

It effectively sells the brand without selling a product.

Think about the American Express OPEN forum.

Here’s what Courtney Colwell, Director of Content Marketing at American Express OPEN Forum, told Entrepreneur about the forum:

“It all stems from our mission of helping these businesses do more business. With our small business customers, their growth fuels ours. It’s a win-win if we can help them succeed.”

They have 109.9 million cards in circulation and a valuation of around $18.3 billion. They don’t need to worry about selling their brand. This forum does it for them.

Or, take Irene Pavico, a videographer and post-production professional, for example.

Irene created a course called THE iPhone Film School to help people get started with video marketing that only uses an iPhone.

She explains that those who are just starting out with making videos may not want to invest in an expensive camera. So, she wants to show you how to start off with the technology that everyone has: an iPhone.

Irene’s approach shows that she understands her audience. She breaks down pain points they have when getting started with video marketing and then solves them.

As far as educational content goes, there are typically two categories that you can focus on.

The most common one that businesses tend to tackle is the tangible solutions category.

Tangible solutions are all about the here and now.

No matter what industry your business is in, your audience likely has plenty of issues and questions that they need help with.

That’s why consumers are 131% more likely to buy from a brand after they consume educational content.

It may not be glamorous, but consumers need and appreciate actionable advice that helps them deal with these immediate problems.

Bux implemented a knowledge base, and it helped them improve their first call resolution by 18%.

It’s easy to follow, it doesn’t ask for anything from the reader, and it’s objectively valuable.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

While actionable, tangible solutions are important, there’s more to value-driven content than the immediate future.

Can you focus on solving specific problems for your audience? You absolutely can.

Is that all your content can do for them? It certainly isn’t.

The flip side of the coin is thought leadership.

If tangible solutions are all about the short-term, then thought leadership is all about the long-term.

This is the kind of content that you’ll see industry leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk post:

Gary is a thought leader that connects with his fans to inspire loyalty. He’s worth more than $160 million, and he employs more than 700 people.

When you’re creating thought leadership content, you’re not just looking to solve someone’s problem today. You’re looking to address the source of that problem altogether.

Just take a look at how brands are becoming thought leaders by addressing changes.

SEMrush does a weekly chat on Twitter where they talk about the latest SEO trends.

Or, consider Content Marketing Institute’s webinars.

With thought leadership, you layer educational content with a breakdown of marketing principles that small business owners should be adopting.

And don’t think that this is exclusive to digital media. Any business can benefit from thought leadership.

According to CEO Omar Sayyed, the tie company Ties.com saw a 30% growth in revenue over the last five years by earning trust with digital content.

Here is an example of one of their top-performing pieces of content on how to tie a tie.

Thought leadership doesn’t just pay attention to symptoms. It identifies the illness and helps your audience cure itself.

As you can probably imagine, this is the most difficult kind of content to create. It requires a strong understanding of industry-wide issues and, more importantly, how to solve them. But if you do it well, the results will be well worth the effort.

Of course, there’s more to problem-solving than just crafting blog posts.

You could create e-books and give them away in exchange for email newsletter sign-ups like Mike Gingerich does.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7k6N8LDjPc?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Or, you can build brand authority through your email list with help from your blog at the same time. After all, email marketing has a median ROI of 122%, which puts other marketing formats to shame.

Or, you can treat social media like an extension of customer support by focusing on one-to-one interactions and addressing customer issues directly.

KLM, Europe’s airline industry leader, used Facebook Messenger to increase customer interactions by 40%.

At the end of the day, your marketing strategy exists for one reason:

To convince people that they should do business with you.

And if you want to showcase just how valuable you are, you have to solve consumer problems more efficiently and more consistently than your competition.

Focus on understanding your audience

At this point, it’s pretty clear that treating marketing as an opportunity for problem-solving appeals to the needs of the modern consumer.

So far, I’ve only covered what that looks like in a general sense.

If you really want to get your hands dirty, you need to see what it looks like in action.

That’s why I’m going to take a look at three brands that have managed to create compelling, valuable marketing content.

More specifically, I’m going to analyze how their particular audiences dictated their marketing strategies.

Why? Because understanding your audience’s needs guarantees that your marketing content will be meaningful, impactful, and valuable to them.

Here’s how Seth Godin puts it:

“Trying to appeal to everyone is almost sure to fail, for the simple reason that everyone wants something different!”

So, how do you do this? My advice is to start by creating buyer personas.

You’ve probably already created them for your product or service. Now’s your chance to expand on them.

If you haven’t updated your buyer personas in a long time, you can use this template from Xtensio:

Overall, there’s a pretty clear correlation between your attention to customers and the success of your business.

In fact, one study found that 65% of businesses that exceeded their lead and revenue goals had updated their buyer personas within the previous six months.

The more information you have, the more you’ll be in tune with the problems of your customers. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions.

What social media platforms do they like to engage with you on?

Who are the industry influencers that they actively pay attention to?

What problem does everyone in your audience struggle with on a regular basis?

General digital media marketing principles are important, but they aren’t worth much if you can’t apply them to your unique marketing situation.

Businesses that have used problem-solving effectively

In this next section, we’re going to look at some marketing strategies from successful businesses. But as we do so, keep in mind that the goal isn’t just to copy them.

Instead, use them as a reference point for your particular marketing strategy.

No matter what tactics you choose, your content still needs to appeal specifically to your audience and provide them with value at every opportunity.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some businesses that have found success with problem-solving.

Mint

If you’re not familiar with Mint, here’s what their elevator pitch might sound like:

Struggling to keep your finances in order? Use our service to stay organized, get back on track, or start saving up enough cash to buy a house.

After the company started, it grew rapidly. They managed to acquire 1.5 million users in their first two years.

But marketing a service like this is actually a bit tricky.

After all, who couldn’t use more help keeping their finances in order? How do you make a marketing strategy that targets most of the population?

Mint came up with a solution: Market to their two types of users.

The first group is already relatively financial literate. They’re looking to build wealth.

The second group is trying to budget as efficiently as possible. They’re more interested in keeping their bank account in the green than anything else.

How can I tell that these are their two types of users?

Taking one look at their official blog tells me everything I need to know.

These blog posts target the extremes of their buyer personas, and Mint appeals to both equally.

With most of their audience likely falling somewhere between those two extremes, it’s fair to say that Mint managed to effectively cover their bases without diluting their message.

As for the content itself, it focuses on tangible, actionable advice.

And that makes perfect sense when you consider the audience they’re speaking to. People looking for concrete financial advice won’t appreciate vague tips.

Someone who’s struggling to manage their finances wants a roadmap to get back on track, not a study on the growth of a Fortune 500 company:

Mint’s content is a mix of blog posts, interviews, and infographics that target younger audiences who are beginning to manage their money.

Largely because of their blog posts, their SEO strategy drove 20% of their total site traffic.

Mint drives thousands of visitors from their budgeting templates and budgeting spreadsheets alone.

So, what’s the lesson?

You shouldn’t just make your content relevant to your audience’s problems in general. To make it as effective as possible, you have to be sensitive to their particular situation.

Slack

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the tech startup scene, you’ve probably heard people raving about Slack.

And it’s worth all the hype it’s receiving.

When you need a messaging app that prioritizes productivity and ease of use, it’s hard to find anything better (especially if you’re working with a remote team).

This is why they’re worth about $5.1 billion.

With all the tools and integrations they offer, it’s easy to see why their taglines are “be less busy” and “where work happens.”

In fact, instead of focusing on content marketing, Slack aims to rank for keywords related to their integrations.

With that in mind, you can already start to see what the Slack audience looks like.

You can picture a startup C-level executive looking for a credible solution to her workplace productivity issues.

Slack’s onboarding process is really where the magic happens. Slack has a deep insight into what their audience needs and they create a unique approach to onboarding.

Right off the bat, you’ll see content that they’ve designed to improve overall workplace efficiency.

Slack even has articles for advice on naming channels and email templates for introducing Slack.

Beyond that, Slack also opts to provide value with updates about their own product.

And, admin users can opt-in for weekly summaries of activities.

They also offer instant notifications.

Slack also keeps a blog with product updates, integration announcements, and tips for improving productivity.

The design their blog posts to ensure that the audience can use Slack to the best of their ability.

For them, it’s not about selling the product as much as it is about improving the user experience.

So, what’s the moral of the story?

Support consumers whether or not they’ve spent their hard-earned money on you. Always provide solutions to their problems as they develop.

Dollar Shave Club

At this point, you’re probably tired of hearing about how impressive the marketing strategies of Dollar Shave Club are.

But acquiring 12,000 customers in their first two days is a little too impressive to ignore.

There are plenty of digital media marketing experts who are fascinated with this brand, and I’m one of them.

Why? Well, mostly because it’s a success story that proves that sound marketing tactics, regardless of the audience in question, can help your business excel.

To put it simply, Dollar Shave Club excels in their ability to create a unique consumer experience in an industry that desperately needs it.

And their audience, which is primarily men looking for a stylish, playful, and witty brand, can benefit from the content on the Dollar Shave Club blog.

The articles have clear, eye-catching headlines, and they’re full of value — all while maintaining that unique DSC brand voice.

They even send personalized emails based on previous purchase history.

If you take nothing else from Dollar Shave Club’s example, remember that your ability to create compelling customer experiences is just as important as the advice you give in your content.

It’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it.

Conclusion

I get it.

Digital media marketing can be a bit overwhelming.

But there’s no getting around the fact that you need to stand out in your industry if you want your business to stay competitive.

The age of traditional marketing is over. Don’t waste time trying to plug holes in the Titanic.

Whether you’re new to the game or you’re trying to rebuild your marketing strategy, focus on the big picture: problem-solving.

Value drives sales. And if you want to increase sales, you’re going to have to find new and exciting ways to offer consumers more value.

With your blog content, be sure to address the problems of today as well as underlying issues that will lead to problems in the future. This will help you stay relevant while also establishing yourself as a thought leader.

In order to solve the problems of your audience, you need to understand your audience. You need to determine exactly who they are so that you can address the specific problems that they have.

And as you think through your strategy for solving the problems of your users, look to innovative brands for ideas. Just be sure to make each strategy your own and adapt them to your audience.

How have you focused on problem-solving in your marketing strategy?

The post Why Problem Solving Should Be The Only Value Proposition You Use appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How To Use Google Images to Drive E-commerce Sales Before Your Competitors Catch On

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/google-images-to-drive-ecommerce-sales/

What if the biggest source of your SEO traffic wasn’t from the front page of Google?

At least, not the front page exactly.

Imagine that there was a backdoor of sorts that could lead to a healthy amount of organic traffic.

It’s a completely legal, whitehat SEO backdoor too, so there’s no chance you’ll be penalized.

And if you leverage yourself correctly, that organic traffic can naturally turn into a sale for your e-commerce site.

If that situation were to exist, it could change the SEO landscape for quite some time.

It may surprise you then to learn that our imaginary backdoor example already exists.

Because with some of the recent changes in how Google allows image searches, the front page has gotten a little bit bigger.

I want to show you what’s changed, and then give you some quick hacks that can help you drive more e-commerce sales by focusing on optimizing for Google image searches.

The new and improved Google image search

Google’s image search has been a stalwart feature of the search engine since 2001 when searches for Jennifer Lopez’s green Versace dress broke the Internet.

Since then, the service has been improved upon in stages and built into a massive image library.

Best guesses estimate that Google has indexed around one trillion images to date, and that’s probably on the conservative side.

So in February of 2018 when Google and Getty Images announced that they would be partnering up, it turned some heads.

The reason given in the press release was that this change was meant to provide a better experience for both Google users and visual content creators.

And according to a tweet from Google’s Danny Sullivan, this was also part of a broader effort by Google to help connect search users with helpful websites.

That sounds a lot like normal, run-of-the-mill SEO talk on the surface.

And since most of the media coverage of this change centered around the fact that Google had removed the “View Image” option with this update, it was easy to miss the real change here.

To make the waters even muddier, Danny later tweeted that this particular change was part of a settlement with Getty Images.

Thus, it further cemented the idea that this change was just another ordinary Thursday for Google.

But when you look a little deeper at what actually changed, this transition has a more significant impact than what you may believe at first glance.

Because while it seems that removing the “View Image” option and replacing it with “Visit” is just meant to annoy desperate college students, it’s actually a shift in the way we search via images.

Or, to put it more plainly, it means you can now try to rank for the front page of Google image search to get organic traffic.

One of the less-heralded statistics from the last few years is that 72% of search engine users search for images before making a purchase.

That means that when someone comes to your site via a search engine, there’s a good chance their search started with Google images.

Before these changes, websites weren’t typically in the limelight.

The uproar that surrounded the removal of the View Image option seems to indicate that most users searched for images to use for another purpose.

But now, if someone wants to download or save an image, they have to click through to the website.

That means you have an opportunity to sell to them now, where before they would never see your brand.

So in a way, Google has created a new and improved channel for customer acquisition that flew completely under the radar.

Let me show you an example of how this could work.

Say you search for a pair of binoculars to take hiking this summer.

You search for binoculars and then decide you’d rather find a set that looks more compact.

Here’s the “front page” of your search in Google.

None of this is branded, there aren’t any ads, and it’s fairly simple to browse through and find a set of binoculars that meets your needs.

If you click on an image, a window will expand and display a larger version of the image.

You’ll also see an option to Visit, Save, View Saved, or Share.

If a user decides to visit this site, they’ll have generated traffic via a Google image search.

And since they’re in the mood to potentially buy, your best bet is to have these images attached to a product page like this one.

At this juncture, I want to point out that this is technically the “top ranked” image on Google.

It’s on a site for the brand B&H Photo Video, and very clearly linked to a product page.

So without knowing the actual stats of this site and page, I would say that there’s a good chance that more than a few sales have closed through the exact path I’ve shown you.

But the interesting aspect here is that this page is not on the actual front page of Google.

It’s not in the sponsored ads, nor is it competing with Amazon or Binoculars.com in the rankings below.

In fact, I scrolled through and didn’t even find this website in the top 10 pages on Google’s search results.

So it’s even more incredible that this image is at the very top of an image search, and it clearly displays an opportunity for more brands to do the same thing.

Especially considering that it wasn’t until my second visit that Google put sponsored ads into my image results:

With this new visit-oriented searching system, Google has created a backdoor for small brands to sell with organic traffic despite otherwise strong search results.

E-commerce marketing professionals now have a viable window to create a new and improved channel for generating sales.

By focusing on the SEO of the images on your product pages, you can now rank on an image search that can result in more revenue for your business.

So for the rest of this article, I want to share some quick hacks that you can start to implement on your images in order to capitalize on this development.

Hack #1: Optimize file names and alt tags

As Google crawls your site, it relies on your site’s code to tell you if there are any images on your pages that contribute to the overall value of the page.

So when optimizing your images for SEO, the very first place you should start is by ensuring that the products on your site have descriptive file names and alt tags.

Here’s a relatively simple example of a descriptive vs. non-descriptive file name.

If Google were to crawl your site and see a series of numbers followed by .jpg, all it can tell is that there is an image.

But with the keywords of corgi, puppies, adoption, and NYC added, Google can accurately assess the contents of the image and rank accordingly.

This is also part of what ensures that your image will appear in a Google image search to begin with.

From there, the next part of your image that you’ll need to optimize is your alt tag.

Much like your file name, alt tags signal to Google what your image contains.

Each alt text is embedded in the HTML of your website so that when Google crawls your site, it can “see” the image.

Here’s an example from the earlier binoculars page:

Notice that the alt tag, in this case, is the same as the product’s title.

It contains the keyword “binoculars,” and is an accurate description of the true contents of the image.

It’s a fairly straightforward bit of text that once again will make all the difference on a search engine results page.

And thankfully, it’s incredibly easy to set both your alt tags and change your file name if you’ve built your site on WordPress.

When you upload an image, all you have to do is select that image to see this menu:

From here, you can change your file name and alt text appropriately.

This will position your images so that when Google crawls your site, it can potentially rank you on its image search.

Without these simple elements, you’ll struggle to rank at all.

But image-based SEO that will help you truly stand out requires investing in some more complex techniques, like leveraging user-submitted images.

Hack #2: Use unique images

You may think that this point goes without saying, but the vast and repetitive use of stock photography online would seem to say otherwise.

Creating and using relevant imagery will ultimately help you draw a Google image search user in and convince them to click through to your site.

For example, if you were to search online for a lawyer in your area only to see something like this:

Chances are you wouldn’t click on that image.

So when in doubt, use a relevant and interesting image for every page on your site, and especially for your product pages.

Even if you have to invest in a professional photographer, the effort and money can be worth it.

The last thing you want is for someone to pass up your site because your image isn’t the most relevant to their search.

Hack #3: Leverage user-submitted images

The average Internet user is pretty skeptical, myself included.

That’s why so many brands now turn to social proof as a means to improve audience engagement and drive sales on their e-commerce sites.

But how can social proof help you get to the top of Google’s image search?

The answer lies in utilizing user-generated social proof image content strategically across your site.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfHqm6j29oo?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Social proof is one of the best ways to increase trust in your brand and improve conversions.

Typically, this type of proof comes in the form of testimonials or case studies that brands leverage in various ways across their site.

But with how image-oriented our current social media lives are, we now see a vast amount of user-generated social proof content in the form of pictures.

Sites like Instagram and Snapchat have changed the way we interact with images, and can now further improve the way you optimize your images’ SEO.

The result means that you can start finding user-generated content by merely interacting with and incentivizing your social media audience.

The key to these images is that they have to be sincere and truly user-generated.

You also need to ensure that you integrate your user-generated images on the right page.

And of course, you need to ensure that you’re legally using the images you end up placing on your site.

But once you have all your ducks in a row, a great idea is to implement your user-generated images on your product pages.

As you can see, the bottom image scroll is comprised of user-generated images that used the #VPBeauty when posting on social media.

The company browsed these images for the highest quality options that it felt showed the best side of their brand.

Then, it embedded these images on their product pages to provide immediate social proof when a visitor sees them.

And since these images are on your website and can be optimized accordingly, they can rank on a Google image search and potentially bring more traffic to your site.

Hack #4: Reduce your load time

Fast loading images are one of the cornerstones of SEO.

If a user can come to your site and quickly load an image that contributes to their overall experience, Google has ways of noticing.

Recent studies have shown that images on websites are typically the largest elements that need to be loaded by a user.

In fact, images on average comprise more than half the data of most web pages.

So when you’re optimizing your product page, there’s a good chance that the image you use is slowing down your site.

And since bounce rates tend to grow rapidly with longer load times, Google sees image size as a significant SEO factor.

That means in order to rank your images on either the front page or an image search, you need to find a way to create a smaller image.

That is where image compression comes in.

Image compression is the practice of taking a large, bulky image file and effectively shrinking it to a fraction of its size.

When there’s less to load, your site loads faster.

Generally speaking, image compression can yield results like this:

This image is clear, sharp, and pleasant to look at.

If I weren’t telling you it was a compressed image, you probably never would have guessed.

But look at what happens when you take this same image and compress it even more:

The colors go all wrong, the lighting is poor, and it makes the image hard to look at.

This is the darker side of what can happen if you compress too much.

There isn’t too much difference in size between these two photos.

The first is about 350 KB, and the second is about 70 KB.

And when you compare that to a photo that may contain thousands of KB, then you begin to see how much this helps improve your load time.

So compressing images is a balancing act.

Go too far, and you get a bad image.

Don’t go far enough, and you’re undermining your SEO efforts altogether.

But how can you easily optimize your photos to ensure that they load faster and rank higher?

To start with, I recommend testing the speed of your site using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

This will let you methodically insert the URLs of your product pages to test how quickly they load.

If you see less than optimal results, PageSpeed Insights will give you a breakdown of which elements will improve your site’s load speed.

If you see the option to Optimize images, you can click the drop-down menu below to see what needs to be fixed.

PageSpeed Insights will tell you the exact file or files that need to be compressed, as well as how big of a reduction it needs.

Once you find out which files need to be compressed, I recommend using a site like JPEGMini to help you complete the task with just a few clicks.

Other options are TinyJPG or ImageOptim (Mac only). Choose lossless compression so you don’t lose image quality.

As you can see, there’s arguably no noticeable difference in the quality of these images to the naked eye.

But in Google’s case, it would notice a clear difference between the original file and the resulting compression that’s more than three times smaller.

This can drastically increase your load time, and even put you under the bar recommended by PageSpeed Insights.

All you have to do is upload your photo with a few clicks.

Then let their system work its magic.

You’ll have a compressed file that’s indistinguishable from the original that’s much, much smaller.

In one case, a brand had let its site load speed drop to abysmal levels in a way that started tanking its traffic.

It even got to the point where PageSpeed Insights showed a zero score for their optimization.

In a large-scale effort to combat this, it overhauled its image sizes and compressed the size of its web pages as much as possible.

As a result, it saw a return to “normal” traffic levels.

This is a clear signal that image size matters when it comes to your SEO.

If you let your images slow down your site, then you run the risk of turning away your users and decreasing the chance of a sale.

And if your image is too big, it’s very likely that Google will rank another image over it in its image search.

So if you want to drive your e-commerce sales with image search, it’s highly recommended to start implementing crisp, compressed images on your product pages.

This will increase the chances of organic traffic, and could ultimately help you edge out your competition.

Conclusion

Google image search has come a long way since 2001, and it seems the ride isn’t over.

With its new partnership with Getty Images, the way we search and use images on Google seems to have changed in favor of the brand that gets there first.

Sites that don’t even rank on the top few pages of Google can still have a fighting chance if its images are optimized and rank well.

And since the majority of e-commerce shoppers browse images before they buy, this development has clear implications for online sellers.

So to help set your brand apart, you need to optimize your images for SEO before your competitors catch on.

Start by ensuring that your alt tags and file names are optimized so that Google can “read” your images appropriately.

And of course, make sure that the images you use are both relevant to your search and interesting enough to make a user want to click.

Then, start leveraging your social media presence to build a pool of user-generated content.

These images will provide social proof and allow you to optimize even more images for SEO.

And finally, take steps to ensure that large image files aren’t negatively impacting your site’s load time.

If you approach your images correctly, you will have further optimized your site for Google’s image search and put your SEO in a better position altogether.

Has your brand seen traffic from Google image search? What worked for you?

The post How To Use Google Images to Drive E-commerce Sales Before Your Competitors Catch On appeared first on Neil Patel.

0

6 Tips for Building Your Marketing Career

sourced from: https://neilpatel.com/blog/building-your-marketing-career/

You’ve read the books. You’ve watched the videos.

You’re convinced that you belong in marketing.

Now, all you have to do is put that resume out there and wait, right?

Unfortunately, that won’t cut it anymore. Getting into marketing is easy. But how do you make it big?

That’s a different ballgame with its own set of rules.

And when you look at the projected growth rates for the marketing field – an increase of up to 10% by 2026 – you can’t afford to not get savvy with those rules.

That growth might be good news for the economy, but it can create challenges for the beginner marketer.

Luckily, there are a few tricks you can use to get the edge on your competition.

Here’s a peek into my rulebook for crushing it in marketing. Use these strategies to boost your marketing career and leave the competition behind.

1. Improve your communication

Whether it’s social monitoring tools, voice search, or multi-channel marketing automation, technology regularly changes the way we reach our audiences.

But it’s a lot to keep up with.

71% of marketing executives use six or more types of marketing technology in their day-to-day lives.

Trying to master one, let alone six, can be daunting and downright impossible for new marketers.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution:

Go back to the basics and then dominate them.

No matter what new technology rolls out tomorrow, your basic communication skills are always in demand.

For proof, take a look at the top skills employers want when hiring fresh graduates for entry-level positions:

Over 80% of employers want to see written communication skills, and under 70% want verbal skills.

Comparatively, less than 60% of survey respondents highlighted technical skills as a top attribute. Less than 50% are looking for computer-specific skills.

That’s all great news for new marketers.

Whether you’re a fresh graduate or you’re making a career transition, you can develop communication skills on your own time.

And you can do it without spending any money or with only a small financial investment.

These skills will make you a better marketer. After all, what is marketing if not applied communication? And, it will make you a more employable in any industry.

It’s a win-win, right?

But how do you develop your fundamental communication skills?

It’s going to sound a little cheesy, but the answer that shows up in professional manuals is the same:

To become a better communicator, communicate more. And, specifically, write more.

As you practice your writing, let me give you a few resources to help you fine-tune your writing skills.

First of all, you should check out My Copyblogger.

Besides their regularly-updated blog, Copyblogger offers e-training courses, webinars, and resources through their My Copyblogger membership.

Signing up gives you access to exclusive e-books that help you develop your written communication and marketing skills.

Look at this top-level preview of their e-book releases for members:

With all of the e-books they offer, both long and short, Copyblogger is a killer resource for any marketer wanting to improve their writing.

Next, Grammarly is a must-have tool.

Grammarly is part proofreader and part personal writing assistant.

It offers more help than just catching typos. It uses contextual analysis to understand what you’re trying to say, and then it helps you say it better.

It also tracks your progress and shows how your skills stack up against other Grammarly users so you can see the trends.

In turn, that makes it easier to figure out what you need to focus on improving.

It also tracks your total word count, and it will show you advanced errors if you’re a premium user.

Being able to track your progress isn’t merely a marketing gimmick, either. Monitoring your own progress can help you stay motivated, set realistic goals, and improve your quality.

Grammarly is probably the best all-in-one tool that you can use. But there are a couple of others worth mentioning.

The web version of Hemingway Editor is a free resource for improving your writing. It tracks passive voice, adverbs, and readability – all of which impact how your audience perceives your writing.

Count Wordsworth is also a free analysis tool helps you polish your word flow. It tracks sentence length, syllables, and pauses.

Here’s the bottom line time:

If you want to get ahead of the technology rat race, then you need to get out of it. Focus on sharpening your foundational skills like writing to help your resume stand the test of time.

2. Specialize and socialize

Thanks to significant job growth, opportunities in marketing are expanding. But so is the competition.

And competing with other marketing hopefuls means that you’re going up against a field chock-full of communication experts.

It’s a lot to stack up against on paper. If you want to separate yourself from the pack, you have to specialize your toolkit.

In a 2017 study, the top-three skills that employers desired in new marketers were digital advertising, content creation, and content strategy.

Creating content and flaunting your curation skills can go a long way toward establishing yourself as a digital marketing guru. And here’s the best part:

You can get started free.

In fact, you can even convince other marketers to spread your reputation for you. How?

Create content for other people.

Specifically, create blog posts for major publications. It’s a great way to associate yourself with industry authorities and get your name out there.

But even more importantly, it also gives you the skill that 53% of marketers list as their company’s top priority.

This is probably why so many big-time marketers are such prolific bloggers. Take a look at this sample of the blogosphere.

The Ahrefs blog is full of data-rich (and often original) research, making it a great place to dive into the details of marketing’s technical side.

This also helps establish the Ahrefs team as subject domain experts. Tim Soulo, for example, is a prolific writer for their blog.

Tim doesn’t post to Ahrefs every day. But when he does, I know that he writes reliable blogs with research-heavy information about SEO.

He regularly introduces new ways of looking at data and marketing with rich technical details and an easy-to-read style.

And that alone is reason enough for you to follow him.

But his blog posts do more than get Ahrefs out there. They cement him as a quality writer and marketer.

Something he corroborates even further with his work at BloggerJet.

Do you want another real-life example of a professional making blogs (even other people’s blogs) work for them?

Look no further than Ann Handley.

Part marketing legend and part writing genius, Hadley uses her expert skills to keep her name at the top of the marketing influencer list.

Ann’s work is both witty and relatable. Her blog reframes complicated marketing concepts into easy and digestible posts. I never come away from her work without laughing and learning.

I guess you could say I’m an “annarchist.” If you want to hone your content skills, you should become one, too.

But it’s not just her razor-sharp sense of humor that keeps readers coming back for more. She’s consistent, she’s authoritative, and she doesn’t hoard her talent.

In addition to her work with MarketingProfs, she also guests posts for Entrepreneur and for Huffington Post.

If someone influential enough to author two Wall Street Journal best-sellers still guests posts for other organizations, shouldn’t you consider doing the same?

So, how do you get started with guest blogging?

Although there are a lot of avenues for publishing content as a guest, one of the easiest – and one of my favorite – ways to get started is through Medium.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLyzKdc5Lso?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Ultimately, no matter how you choose to hone your communication skills, adding authoritative pieces to your name won’t just help you sound like a better marketer.

It’ll make you look like one, too. And that brings me to the next topic:

Your portfolio.

3. Grow your portfolio

Your skills can’t grow without the opportunity to sharpen them.

But you won’t get many opportunities until you demonstrate that you already have some of the skills that you need to improve.

Because you aren’t able to secure opportunities, your skills deteriorate and don’t develop. You miss out on even more future opportunities because no one will give you one to start with.

This starts a self-defeating cycle.

In a 2017 survey, 64.5% of employers indicated they preferred hiring candidates with relevant work experience. This was even true in the case of college graduates.

So, whether you get into the marketing field through school or Internet hustle, you need experience in order to get more experience.

That’s frustrating, right?

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution to break the cycle and make you look pretty impressive, too.

You can volunteer. Specifically, volunteer with a nonprofit.

This will help expand your network and gain professional portfolio pieces.

It also helps signal your values to future employers and commitment to social causes like education and animal welfare.

You might even meet other marketers in the process. Radish Labs, a creative agency specializing in nonprofits, regularly promotes creative volunteerism.

Are you looking for ways to volunteer and beef up your portfolio but can’t find any local opportunities? VolunteerMatch is a great directory with plenty of remote opportunities.

With ample opportunities to grow your portfolio and get some serious Good Samaritan street cred, what are you waiting for?

Get out there and start making a difference for others to see a difference in your career.

4. Jumpstart your network

In some industries, it’s more about who you know than what you do. But in digital marketing, it’s about both.

And if you’re an inexperienced marketer, that can create a significant obstacle to launching your career.

It’s almost a chicken before the egg problem. How do you meet the right people if you don’t already know the right people to set up introductions?

After all, according to SilkRoad’s 2017 Sources of Hire report, employee referrals still lead the way as the top avenue for new job hires.

It’s the same kind of defeating cycle as the “experience without experience” conundrum I described in the above section.

You can’t grow your network because you need a network first to look reputable and gain people’s trust.

Fortunately, the solution to ending this cycle is just as simple:

Log out and look to the offline world to bolster your online network.

Are you needing to meet people in the industry? Attend local meetings and conventions and then make your connection online.

Here’s the great news:

Two of the biggest marketing conventions – INBOUND and the Growth Marketing Conference – are still on the horizon for 2018.

Hubspot backs INBOUND.

INBOUND

It includes all things marketing and selling in three strategy-packed days.

If you don’t want to commit to the sessions or their price tag, INBOUND also offers “community passes” for networking events. It’s a great option for new marketers with tight budgets.

The Growth Marketing Conference is also well worth your time.

Some of the biggest names in marketing attend the conference. It’s a two-day event full of networking events, tactical sessions, and innovative workshops.

Like INBOUND, this conference offers several tiers of participation, including access to networking and training sessions at a fraction of the full price.

Of course, one of the big downfalls of this approach is that the larger conventions tend to happen in larger cities.

But don’t worry.

Even if you can’t fit a major convention into your schedule, there are still a few other options for expanding your network.

You can host or join a local event through a service like Meetup.

This not only cuts out your travel costs but it also helps you build a local network and find – or organize – events on your own schedule.

Lastly, even if you can’t find any offline networking opportunities, there are some online options for building your credibility and network.

One solution is LinkedIn groups. Take a look at the four most popular groups below:

That’s pretty promising, right?

With three million connections possible, you should be able to find like-minded connections in no time and start growing your network.

5. Go big with data

If you want to beat the rat race, get ahead of it. And there’s no better way to get ahead than to develop some of the most in-demand skills on the job market.

And in 2018, that means you need to go big with data.

Statistics and analytics help marketers understand their audiences in a quantifiable way.

But that’s not all they can do.

Data-driven marketing techniques also help professionals make better decisions and acquire new customers.

They have the receipts to show for it, too.

Between 2016 and 2017, data-driven marketing expenditures and revenues rose to their highest ever, according to a DMA study.

But despite this significant growth, the marketing world is still experiencing a major talent shortage.

The datasets keep expanding, but the talent pool and preparedness of organization are on the decline.

Check out this later 2018 survey about marketers’ confidence in the ability of their organizations to handle data for marketing:

So what does this mean for your career? I can tell you in one word:

Opportunity.

With data becoming critical for marketers and business leaders across the board, there’s never been a better time to learn how to analyze data.

And thanks to the advent of several e-learning platforms, it’s never been easier, either. Here are a few of the places where you can dig into data and earn your analytic credentials from home.

Coursera offers university-grade education at an elementary school price point. Usually, courses run between four to six weeks.

Many of their courses provide free videos, and the selection for marketing analytics is huge.

And best of all, all of their classes are fully online, and they reward certificates upon completion.

In addition to career credentials, the forum can jumpstart your network and help develop your portfolio with peers.

Are you looking for a less academic option, or do you need to set your own schedule? If so, try Lynda.com.

LinkedIn acquired Lynda.com in 2015. Now, it’s a powerful resource for learning the ins and outs of marketing, SEO, content, design, and much more.

Unlike Coursera, the lecture series on Lynda.com consists of videos and guided exercises, so you can learn entirely at your own pace.

And, while you won’t have a forum to interact with other course learners, many of the videos include guided exercise files to help you practice your skills.

Plus, thanks to the integration with LinkedIn, you can automatically display your learning paths on your profile.

Check out a preview of some of the courses they offer for data analytics in marketing.

Lynda.com has classes that range from beginner to advanced levels. It has everything you need to hone your data skills from start to finish.

Another option is DistilledU.

Some of the largest names in business like Adobe, eBay, and Capital One use DistilledU. It’s an at-your-own-pace, interactive training option for SEO marketers who want to learn more about the field.

They also offer classes for marketers of all levels. They have classes that can teach you the fundamentals of SEO.

And they have highly advanced classes, too.

This makes it a fantastic resource for marketers of any experience level.

DistilledU offers annual and monthly memberships. So, whether you want to master marketing or just get a crash course in analytics, there’s a module to fit your schedule and budget.

Similar to Lynda.com, Skillshare provides e-learning for everything from design to data science to advanced marketing.

Here are some of their course offerings that are currently popular.

Instructors provide class projects to supplement video lectures with hands-on learning, making this ideal for those of you who prefer interactive education.

In summary, no matter what platform you choose, adding data analytics to your skill set is a great way to make yourself more attractive to future employers and outshine the competition.

6. Build your branding

Finally, if you want to step outside of your competition’s shadow, you have to build your branding and build it well.

That means that, besides developing your writing skills, you need to establish a distinct visual identity.

Without one, your brand can easily get lost in the fray, especially if you’re using stock images.

Getting lost means that your audience is ignoring you. And if your audience is ignoring you, you’ll never see your marketing career reach the next level.

But getting a grip on core marketing concepts and strategies is hard enough. How are you supposed to develop branding and make yourself stand out?

And what makes a brand’s visual style distinct?

No matter what channels you’re using, consistency is key.

Take a look at Content Marketing Institute’s homepage:

Now, take a peek at their YouTube channel:

By keeping the typeface and colors consistent, they establish an easy mental link for their followers. Users know that if they see that shade of orange, they’re looking at something from Content Marketing Institute.

Here’s another example. Look at MarketingProfs’ homepage.

Now, here’s their YouTube channel.

Again, you can see consistent colors and styles of images.

This is what it boils down to:

If your social media accounts don’t share branding, you’re making it harder for people to identify you as a marketer.

If you think branding is difficult, then think again. You can start your branding by creating a logo in about five minutes.

But if you want to take it a step further and you don’t have an army of in-house designers behind you, then you can turn to freelance boards for help.

Fiverr, Upwork, and 99designs are three of the most popular platforms for finding great visuals that fit any budget.

On Fiverr, freelancers (which they call “sellers”) provide service packages with their unique skills.

One of the upsides to using Fiverr is that they offer scalable bundles. These bundles will let you get as little or much design work as you need for a predictable price.

And because buyers reach out to sellers first, you won’t receive pitches that you aren’t interested in.

But that’s also the downside.

If you’re short on time, you can’t wait for offers and let the designers come to you. That means that this may not be the best option for marketers with a tight schedule.

Upwork (formerly oDesk) is another major freelancer board with a significant design community.

After setting up a business account, you have the option of posting a job and letting the pitches come to you. You can also invite some of Upwork’s top talent to apply.

Unlike Fiverr, you typically pay by the hour or project. Freelancers submit their proposals along with their price estimations.

Upwork is ideal for both big and small budgets. It’s a great option to test the visual branding waters without making major commitments.

Lastly, 99designs is a freelancing platform that specializes in branding and product design.

They provide matching services where they fit you with a graphic designer who meets your design needs. There’s also a contest option where the community competes to win your project.

The higher price of 99designs may not be ideal for your first project. But for those ready to commit, all design contests come with a 100% money-back guarantee.

No matter where you get your designs from, consistent branding colors are key for integrating older and newer designs seamlessly.

One easy way to do that is by using Adobe’s color system.

Here’s how.

Head to Adobe Color CC.

Click on “sign in” in the top-right corner. You want to be able to save your palette to share, so it’s important to get this step out of the way first.

Follow the link for “Get an Adobe ID.”

Fill out the sign-up form and click the blue “sign up” button to go back to the Adobe Color CC homepage.

Once there, begin picking colors by manipulating the color wheel. Here’s the default suggestion for my orange.

To play with the auto-generated palettes, use the left-hand menu to navigate. If you want to build a custom palette, you’ll need to select the last option.

Once you have a color palette you like, click the blue save button.

It will then prompt you to name your theme.

Click “save” and head over to “My Themes” using the top navigation menu.

You should now find your palette waiting in your library.

Hover over your palette to see your saving and sharing options.

Hit the download button to share your palette with future designers.

Since Adobe is the king of design suites – 90% of creative professionals use Photoshop – anyone you work with can open the palette directly in their choice program.

You can even use the same palette to customize resume templates and give your credentials the same eye candy from start to finish.

By the way, don’t forget to check out Adobe Color CC’s “Explore” option for inspiration before you go.

Ultimately, whether you use multiple freelancers or none at all, using the same color palette throughout will give your brand consistency no matter who is at the design wheel.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4PbCulOhOA?feature=oembed&w=700&h=394]

Conclusion

The field of marketing is expanding rapidly, and experts expect it to keep growing.

That means that you have plenty of opportunities. However, that also means that you have plenty of competition.

So, how can you stand out?

For starters, don’t get too caught up in new technology. Keeping on top of marketing technology trends as a newcomer to the industry is expensive and time-consuming.

Instead, focus on dominating your fundamental communication skills.

Next, you can separate yourself from the competition by specializing and socializing.

Create content for other industry blogs or use publications on Medium to give your name authority.

Portfolio pieces are a killer way to make your resume shine, even if they’re unpaid gigs.

Volunteer your marketing skills with a nonprofit to polish your sample pieces. Plus you’ll make a difference in the world and your career.

Networking is still a vital part of landing a job. More new hires come through employee referrals than through job boards.

Building an online network can be tricky. One way to expand your network rapidly is to look to the offline world and attend industry conventions.

Candidates with data skills are some of the most in-demand hires in any industry, marketing including. Build your analytics skills on your own time to elevate your career potential.

Branding doesn’t stop at written content. Having a distinct and consistent visual identity is key.

Even if you don’t have designers on tap, you can find great (and cheap) freelancers through platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99 Designs.

Establishing a color palette keeps your branding consistent no matter who is behind the design wheel.

Adobe Color CC is a fast, easy, and free way to set up a color palette that the vast majority of creative professionals can use later.

A marketing career can be challenging to start, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Follow these six strategies to give your career a boost and stay at the top of the trendline.

What strategies have you used to separate your skills from the marketing pack?

The post 6 Tips for Building Your Marketing Career appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Churn Rate 101: The Science of Predicting & Improving Your Customer Retention Rates

sourced from: https://www.digitalmarketer.com/customer-retention-rates/

For some companies, churn is like cholesterol…

A silent killer without any visible symptoms.

Learn some quick and easy methods you can use to get a handle on your business’s churn rate.

You may not even realize you have a problem until your new customer acquisition flatlines, and suddenly it becomes obvious that your current customers are jumping ship at an alarming rate.

Now, I don’t want to scare you for no reason here. Your business is probably NOT about to have an unexpected heart attack.

But churn rate IS an important metric that you DO need to monitor over time. (Just like cholesterol.)

And when you understand how to measure and manipulate churn, you can use that data to do some really cool stuff.

In this post, you’ll learn some quick and easy methods you can use to get a handle on your business’s churn rate—without hiring an expensive data analyst and without spending hours mired in math problems.

By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know how to use easy “napkin math” to calculate vital business metrics like your churn rate, retention rate, average customer value, and more—data you can use to help you make smarter business decisions and improve customer retention rates.

Churn 101: The Basics of Customer Attrition

Let’s start with a really basic question: What is churn?

The most common way of describing churn looks like this:

Just in case this is a new idea, here’s the quick breakdown. Your business is the bucket. And that bucket has holes in it—small inefficiencies or friction points that result in a loss of water.

The water inside the bucket typically represents the people who are constituents of your company—your customers, leads, email subscribers, etc. But you can also think of the water as your current and potential revenue.

So, you’re constantly losing water over time through these holes. But, of course, you’re also adding new water to the bucket, too, by building your email list and acquiring new customers.

Churn, then, is how you measure the rate at which the water leaves the bucket.

Who Does Churn Affect?

Churn is a really big deal for companies with a subscription product—like SaaS companies and any sort of recurring service like gyms, memberships, and anything else that bills on a regular basis like Birchbox or Netflix.

But churn doesn’t just happen with recurring services. It affects every company in some way or another.

In fact, churn is a perfectly natural part of every business. Nobody who joins your email list will stay forever. Nobody who buys your membership product will stay a customer forever. You’re always going to have people coming in and people leaving.

The goal is not to reach 0% churn. After all, your product, your service, and your message are not always going to be relevant to everyone. And people evolve over time—sooner or later most people will reach a point where your message no longer applies to them the way it once did.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore churn. Far from it! Because even though some churn is natural, too much churn can be a HUGE problem for your business.

“The Dreaded Plateau” (AKA The Danger of Too Much Churn)

First, it’s important to realize that churn is cumulative.

Warning: We’re going to venture out of the shallow waters of the “math pool” to discuss this, but it’s a key concept for understanding churn.

This is an unavoidable truth because as your membership gets bigger and bigger, churn will start taking out more and more of those people.

Let’s say you run a promotion and you get 100 new subscribers to your membership site. And over the next month, maybe 12 of them leave. Does that mean the other 88 will stay forever?

No, of course not.

Over time, more and more of those people will leave. Some will leave quickly, and others might stay for years. But eventually, all 100 of them will cancel.

Of course, you don’t just add 100 new customers and then stop working, do you?

No!

You’re always working to acquire new customers, to put more water into the bucket.

But over time, more and more of that water starts leaking out—until you can’t get the bucket any fuller than it already is. I call this the point “the plateau.”

So, what is “the plateau”?

The plateau refers to the point in time when the number of customers added to your audience or membership is equal to the number leaving.

This is an unavoidable truth because as your membership gets bigger and bigger, churn will start taking out more and more of those people.

Let’s look at a simplified churn model. Pretend you’re starting a brand-new membership site. You manage to add 100 new subscribers every month, and your churn rate is 10%.

After the first month, you’ll have 90 members. (Because you added 100, and 10 of them churned.)  After the second month, you’ll have 171. (You added 100, bringing you to 190, then lost 10% of that or 19.)

Let’s project this out and see how your site would progress over time:

Right away you can tell—if you look at the rightmost column—that your growth is slowing down. The first month, your net growth was 90 new members. After 12 months, it was only 28 (646 – 618).

And eventually, if your “new members added” and “churn rate” stay constant, you’ll reach a point where it levels off completely:

THAT is the plateau.

It’s where the number of new members each month equals the number of members who churned, which means you aren’t growing—you’re stagnant.

When you reach this point, the only way to continue growing your membership is to…

Add more members every month, and/or
Reduce your churn rate

The problem with strategy #1 is that acquiring new customers is expensive. Not only is it expensive, but eventually you’ll start to reach market saturation. That’s the point where you’ve reached the relevant lists in your niche, you’ve targeted all the relevant interests on Facebook, and essentially, you’ve acquired all the easy, low-cost customers available.

(In other words, what you’ll eventually find is that there is only so much water that can be added to the bucket, or that adding water gets way more expensive.)

Now take a breath. Don’t freak out. I know this sounds scary, but it’s not quite as bad as it might sound.

It might make you feel better if I told you that we hit this plateau at DigitalMarketer. And guess what? It wasn’t the end of the world. We figured it out. We kept moving.

But it wasn’t easy. Once you hit this plateau, it takes some pretty massive changes to continue growing.

So, can you see why churn is so important?

Why is this something you really need to keep an eye on?

But here’s some good news. When you understand churn, you’ll have the tools you need to tackle the plateau when you reach it—and in some cases, you might be able to avoid it altogether.

What’s a “Good” Churn Rate?

Anytime I start talking about churn, the question invariably arises:

What’s a good churn rate?

Unfortunately, that’s a hard question to answer. It certainly varies depending on industry, and there are confounding factors—for instance, if you’re measuring the churn rate for your email list, the frequency of your email sends will have a big impact on churn.

And because churn rate is such a vital metric for SaaS companies, they tend to be extremely tight-lipped about their churn statistics.

But in the end, it doesn’t really matter. Because when you are trying to grow your business, nobody else’s churn rate really matters; all that matters is your own. This is one part of your business where you aren’t really working against your competitors—you’re working against your past self, trying to improve your own performance.

So, don’t worry too much about industry standard churn rates. What’s really important is that you know what your own churn rate is, and try to improve on it over time.

3 Types of Churn

There are 3 main things that can churn in a business. They might not all apply to your business, but at least 1 of them definitely will. There 3 types of churn are:

Customer Churn

There might be people in your SaaS program or people in your paid membership site.

This could also be clients—for instance, if you’re on retention as a consultant, any client who cancels your service could be thought of as churning.

Revenue Churn

You can also think about churn in terms of revenue, rather than in terms of customers. And this is useful because customer churn and revenue churn don’t always line up.

Maybe your customers have different values, and your higher-value customers have a different churn rate than your lower-value customers.

In situations like this, it makes sense to look at revenue churn in addition to customer churn.

Subscriber Churn

This is a type of churn that people tend to forget about, but it’s a really important metric to look at.

How often do you experience churn among people who are subscribed to your email list? These are the people your company is having a conversation with. They aren’t necessarily customers, but they’re potential customers.

When to Measure Churn

Another question that comes up is: how often should you measure churn? Should you measure it every day, once a week, monthly, or every quarter? What’s the ideal frequency?

This is generally considered to be the sweet spot in terms of churn measurement.

If you measure churn too often—like every day—then you’re going to introduce too much variation into your data. Your measurements will be thrown off by little things. Maybe something breaks on your website one day. And that makes a couple people mad, leading to a few extra cancellations.

In the big picture, that little spike of cancellations isn’t that big of a deal. But if you measure churn too frequently, you’re going to stress out about those little spikes.

On the other hand, looking at churn every year or quarter is going too far in the other direction. You’re never going to be able to make smart, informed decisions—because you’re looking at too much data. And you aren’t looking at it frequently enough to make the changes you need to keep churn under control.

So, where does that leave us?

In short, for most companies, I recommend measuring your churn on a monthly basis. This is generally considered to be the sweet spot in terms of churn measurement.

It’s not too often (so little spikes won’t throw off your data). But it’s also frequent enough that you can spot any troublesome trends and take steps to correct any problems.

However…

Depending on the nature of your membership, it might make sense to measure churn at different intervals. For instance, maybe you have a subscription product that only charges people once a year (like Amazon Prime).

If that’s the case, then it doesn’t make sense to measure churn monthly. Instead, you’ll want to measure churn yearly (or quarterly, or however often you charge your members).

My best rule of thumb is to measure churn based on the frequency of your rebills for customers and revenue, and once a month for subscribers.

(NOTE: Want to learn to use your company’s data to make smart, data-driven decisions? Become a Certified Data & Analytics Specialist and understand the health of your business at every stage. Learn more here.)

How to Measure Churn

OK, so we’ve been talking about churn for a while now. It’s probably time for me to tell you how to actually measure your business’s churn rate.

The equation looks like this:

This equation will tell you how many members churned out, compared to how many members you started with. When you finish this calculation, you’ll end with a percentage (so 0.28 is 28%).

The big thing people tend to forget is to subtract the “new members added.” But it’s really, REALLY important to subtract that out.

Here’s why:

It’s a common mistake to say, “I had 100 members last month. This month I have 102. So clearly, churn isn’t a problem for me.”

NOT TRUE!

At least…not necessarily.

Here’s why:

Maybe you lost 33 members last month, but simply generated 35 new members. If that’s the case, then you actually have a churn rate of…

1 – (102-35) / 100 = 33%

In this scenario, you actually have a really high churn rate that you need to figure out. But you wouldn’t know that unless you did the math and calculated it.

So this is how you measure your churn rate. Just use this equation every month to figure out what percentage of your members churned.

How to Predict Future Churn

OK, now you know how to calculate churn that happened in the past. But how can you predict FUTURE churn?

There’s no 1 single answer to that question, but there are 3 common models you can use to predict churn. We’re going to discuss the merits and challenges of each, looking at how they predict the churn of a single cohort (a group that entered into your subscription or list at the same time—more on this after our models).

The Linear Churn Model

The first model of churn is a linear model:

In this model, you lose a certain number of members over time. And that number is constant.

So, if you start with 100 members, and your churn rate is 10%, that means you would lose 10 members every month. So, after 10 months, all 100 members would be gone.

Now the good news about the linear churn model is that it’s not very accurate. In the real world, churn does NOT typically happen this quickly.

So, let’s move to a slightly more complicated (and more realistic) model.

The Exponential Churn Model

Next, let’s take a look at the exponential churn model:

In this model, which is more accurate than the linear model, you lose a certain percentage of your members over time.

So, if your churn rate is 10%, and you start with 100 members in January, then you’ll lose 10 members the first month.

But in February, you start with 90 members—so instead of losing 10, you lose 9. That means you begin March with 81 members, so you’ll lose 8 members that month.

Make sense?

It’s a little more complicated, but it’s much more accurate and useful than the linear model. Using this model, if you started the year with 100 members you would end the year with 28 still subscribing to your service.

Now if you really want to get an accurate (but much more complex) prediction of your churn rate, you can use…

The Adjusted Exponential Churn Model 

The last churn model is called the adjusted exponential churn model:

I won’t go into too much detail on the adjusted churn model, because frankly, it’s pretty complex, and there’s no quick and easy way to calculate this on your own.

It is probably the most accurate way to calculate churn. And as you can see, it’s less steep than the other models—this model would predict that you still have 46 members at the end of the year, compared to 0 for the linear model and 28 for the exponential model:

And if you look at all 3 models on one graph here, you can see that the adjusted exponential decay model eventually kind of levels out.

We call this line (the green one) “the retention curve”:

And this is how most churn really works. You have a certain percentage who churn out pretty quickly—probably a pretty big percentage. But the churn quickly levels off, and after that point, churn happens much more slowly.

Now if you’re really interested in calculating your churn based on the adjusted exponential churn model, you can learn more about that here. But we’re not going to do that in this post.

Because while this model is accurate, it’s not especially useful—for one thing, it requires you to make a ton of assumptions about the future of your business that may or may not be correct. The other problem is that this is really difficult and complicated to calculate, a huge barrier for most entrepreneurs and small businesses with limited time for analysis.

Instead, when you’re just getting started, I recommend using the Exponential Churn model. It will over-exaggerate your churn to an extent, but that’s OK. This doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be close enough to give you an idea of how many people are going to leave your membership or email list over time.

A Super-Quick Way to Calculate Future Retention Rates

If you want to look really smart the next time you’re talking about churn, break out this equation:

This is a simple equation you can use to project what percentage of your members or subscribers will still be around after a certain number of months. This equation uses the exponential churn model described above.

Let’s see it in action: pretend you have 200 members with a churn rate of 10%. And let’s say you want to figure out how many of those 200 members will still be around after a year (12 months).

Just plug those numbers into the equation (remember 10% = 0.1):

And voila!

After a year, 28% of your members will still be around. If you started with 200 members, that means 56 of them will still be subscribed after a year (200 * 28% = 56).

How Do You Use Churn?

OK, so you’ve learned how to calculate past churn…and how to predict future churn.

So…what do you DO with that information? How do you actually USE it?

Here are a few helpful ideas:

Using Cohorts

A cohort is a group of people with something in common. And when you’re looking at churn, the “thing in common” is usually when those people joined your membership program.

And THIS is where churn gets fun!

So, you might take everyone who joined in January, and put them together in a cohort. Then you can measure their churn as a group—to help get a better idea of your average customer retention and value.

In other words, you use cohorts to figure out how long the average subscriber is going to stick around.

For example, here’s a single cohort for DigitalMarketer Lab:

We watched this same group of members over time and found that after 8 months we still had about 42% as subscribers. (DigitalMarketer’s churn rate at the time was around 8%.)

We used this data to help figure out how long our members stick around…which we then used to calculate our average customer lifetime value and projected revenue.

And THIS is where churn gets fun!

(Also, keep in mind we didn’t just do this once. We did it maybe 20 times, with 20 different cohorts, to really get a good idea of our membership site retention rate.)

3 Useful Things You Can Do With This Data 

Once you know your churn rate, there’s a lot you can do with that data. Here are 3 of the most useful:

1. Churn Allows You to Project Income Revenue

When you have an idea of your churn rate, you can start to accurately calculate how much revenue you’ll take in each month.

And if you do this at the beginning of January, for instance, you can get an idea of how much revenue you’ll make over the next 12 months—which is important information you can use to help guide your budgeting, spending, and marketing strategies over the next year.

You can also use this data to calculate the total value of an average subscriber.

Here’s an example of what this might look like. First, take your cohort analysis and add in how many charges occurred each month:

The “Total per Cycle” column refers to how many members left that month. So in the first month, 193 people left after paying only 1 time. In the 2nd month, 185 people left after paying twice.

And so on.

Multiply column 1 (# of charges) times column 3 (how many people paid that number of times) to get the total number of charges for that group.

When you’re done, add them all together, and you get 5,328—this is the total number of payments we processed for this cohort.

And if you divide that by the total number of members who started with us, you can calculate the average amount of time that the average person was a Lab member:

So, in this cohort, people stayed for an average of 5 months. Multiply that by the cost of membership and you get the average customer value.

And that’s REALLY useful information!

Because once you know what a subscriber is worth to your business, you know how much money you can afford to spend on acquiring new customers while still turning a profit.

2. Churn Allows You to Estimate How Many New Members Are Needed to Maintain and/or Grow Your Business

Now that you know how many members you’ll lose each month, and how much revenue that corresponds to, you can figure out how many NEW members you’ll need to acquire if you want to keep growing.

This is really helpful information you can use to help guide your marketing campaigns and avoid “the plateau” I described earlier.

3. Churn Allows You to Establish Performance Baselines, Putting You in a Better Position to Understand How New Strategies Affect Your Customer Retention Rates

Once you know how to calculate churn, you’ll be much better able to measure the impact of changes in your business.

For instance, maybe you made a change to improve your membership site; rather than simply saying, “We improved the interface,” now you’ll be able to say something much more specific and meaningful, like: “We improved churn by 3% and saved the company $3,000 per month.”

5 Churn Causes & Cures

Now you have the tools you need to measure and predict churn quickly. But, of course, you should always be trying to reduce your churn rates. So how do you do that? And what causes people to churn, anyway?

Well, here are 5 things that could be causing people to churn from your membership…and 5 things you can to help reduce that churn.

5 Possible Causes of Churn

Here are 5 of the most common causes of churn we’ve seen across our portfolio of businesses:

1. Consumption Completion

If your membership site offers a limited amount of content, then people are going to cancel once they finish your course.

If you find that this is a big cause of churn for your business, then there’s a simple fix: add more, great new content to your site!

2. Lack of Belief or Investment

If your members don’t believe your product or service will work—or if they’re not invested in using it—that can also cause them to leave your site.

It’s not enough for your product to work; your customers have to BELIEVE it will work.

3. Usability Friction

If your site is hard to use or navigate, that can also cause people to become frustrated and leave your site. If this is the case for your business, then the solution should be clear:

Get to work improving your site, pronto!

4. Cost

Some people will leave your site because the price is too high. They don’t believe the value of membership is worth the cost.

Does this mean you should lower prices? No, not necessarily.

Instead, this is often a market/customer match problem. If a high percentage of your members think the cost is too high, you might be going after the wrong market—and instead, you need to target higher-income people for whom your price won’t be a problem.

5. Involuntary Churn/Billing Issues

Sometimes technical issues cause people to churn involuntarily. Maybe the credit card you have on file expires or gets declined.

As a result, they end up churning—but it’s not because they chose to cancel. It was involuntary.

When this happens, you should make a strong effort to contact the member and have them update their payment information.

5 Things You Can Do to Reduce Churn

Now here are 5 things you can do to help reduce churn over time:

1. Messaging Segmentation

This means breaking down your members into different groups so that you can talk to each group in a way that’s more relevant to them.

For instance, in DM Lab we have entrepreneurs, small business owners, and marketing agencies. If we can keep track of who’s who in DM Lab, then we can provide more relevant messages and content to each of those groups—increasing the value of their membership and reducing churn.

2. Indoctrination

This just means working to build up your relationship with each new member. To help make your members feel invested in your community. To make them feel a part of it. More connected with your business.

(RELATED: 8 Essential Strategies to Build a Thriving Customer Community)

One way to do this is through an email series that shows your new customers how to get started using your product and answers commonly asked questions.

3. Downgrading

Is price an issue for a lot of members? If so, then downgrading can be a powerful way to reduce churn.

Some companies will offer a lower level of service for a lower monthly fee. For example: Instead of paying $15 for 2 DVDs a month, would you like 1 DVD a month for just $8?

You can also use this strategy with email lists by offering a weekly email roundup instead of a daily email.

Either way, the strategy is the same: you’re basically reducing the commitment on the part of the user, thereby getting them to stay in your community.

4. Commitments

When you ask people to commit to themselves (or their friends) in a public way, that can really improve your churn rate.

Maybe you ask new members to share their progress on Facebook or Twitter—or even ask them to refer their friends and family. This kind of thing can increase their sense of commitment and improve customer retention.

5. Billing System Efficiencies

Basically, this means coming up with ways of getting in touch with people when their credit card doesn’t work.

Maybe you send a reminder email the month before their card expires asking them to update it in advance. Then if their card gets declined, you make a point to call them and ask for the updated expiration date.

There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit here for reducing your churn rate by simply making it easy for people to update their payment information.

Conclusion

I know this has been a long post with a lot of math, but you made it!

And more importantly, you’ve learned the essentials of churn rate that you can use to help retain more of your customers and ultimately grow your business.

So, what should you do to get started?

First, go back and measure your churn rate for the past few months. This can help you establish a baseline.

Then set a reminder to measure it again at the end of each month.

Finally, get started with some cohort analysis. Group customers by starting month to start tracking your average customer retention rate and average customer value.

Do those few things, and you’ll be putting yourself in a much better position to make smarter and more informed business decisions.

(NOTE: Want to learn to use your company’s data to make smart, data-driven decisions? Become a Certified Data & Analytics Specialist and understand the health of your business at every stage. Learn more here.)

The post Churn Rate 101: The Science of Predicting & Improving Your Customer Retention Rates appeared first on DigitalMarketer.

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Top 5 Insights from Every Speaker of Digital Elite Camp 2018

sourced from: https://conversionxl.com/blog/digital-elite-camp-2018/

Elite Camp 2018 (10th anniversary!) brough together 180 marketing and optimization people all over Europe. It was 3 days in a secluded beach resort with the best speakers and parties.

Here are 5 (or so) thoughts from every speaker from this year’s lineup.

Peep Laja: Repeatable Patterns in CRO

We cannot predict what will work. Our intuition is terrible at it.
You can’t copy market leaders or competitors to get ahead.
Can we skip conversion research if we know the repeatable patterns? No.
Basic things like “less unnecessary forms fields” are best practices, it’s a stretch to call them repetable patterns
The only repeatable pattern in CRO is doing the hard work of conversion research – it gets results every single time.

Hana Abaza: Thriving on Change, Driving Growth and Lessons Learned at Shopify

Positioning: Is it really the product you have to differentiate or is it the experience?
Your customers are ready for the future of commerce. Are you?
Marketers are often talking about unicorns, ice-creams and rainbows. But actually there is no basis to positioning. Use plain language. No jargon. No ice-cream, unicorns, rainbows.
 Balance short and long term impact. Low hanging fruit seems tempting, but can lead you astray.
It’s not about more leads, but better leads.

Chris Out: How to Build a Top 1% Growth Team 3 times faster than your Competition?

The growth system is broken: product, marketing and sales are siloed. That’s a problem.
Growth hacking is not only top of the funnel. You need high tempo testing and experimentation throughout the whole customer journey.
A high impact teams needs top skills. Rockboost process of building up a skill set:

Personal T-shape plans.
What do your clients need?
List all the hard and soft skills.
Learning plan per person
Plan dedicated learning time into your day!
Monthly check-ins.

Look at your growth team score and ask yourself: are you working in a multi-disciplinary team where you focus on high tempo testing on the entire customer journey for bottom line and valuation impact?
Use CXL Institute to train your team members on growth

Ed Fry: Data-driven Growth – Lies, Lawyers & Outsized Results

Where is your customer journey captured? Go a little bit further, it is not always in Google Analytics. What does your team need to access that data? How to get access to the right data? It’s in website analytics and emails, but that is just a small piece of it.
What are the decision making moments in your growth process? Can you create rules for them? There is automation & there are processes, but for growth you also need rules.

Pricing is a rule.
Sales compensation is a rule.
Content modelling is a rule. (Booking.com: user reviews, location..)
Content modelling for a blog: use different elements
Design = rules.
Development = rules.
Content = rules.
Segments as rules: “Who to talk to”
Templates as rules: “What to say” and “What to say” internally
Workflows as rules: “When and where to say it”. Control the complexity in your workflows.

 Unify all user data in one place.

Alexa Hubley: The Agile Marketing Playbook

Create your agile process:

Map (start at the end)
Sketch (remix & improve)
Decide (Rumble, storyboard)
Prototype – test

Active campaigning works. If you want more product adoption, market to your user base. 
Solve at the micro level.
Show, don’t tell.

André Morys: Understanding Disruptive Growth – Why Most Optimizers Fail to Produce Great Results and How to Change it

Understand the real challenge. It is not statistics, tools, errors on websites.
It’s all about customer experience. We have to help companies provide a better experience. Make a connection between A/B testing and your boss/strategy. It’s not about technology, but customer centricity + agility, data drivenness.
You are not optimising websites but helping your boss and client get over ignorance and see the real problem. Connect what you are doing to their strategic challenge.
Prioritise impact over speed. Go for “High Impact Testing” – those tests need a triple amount of effort of an average A/B test, but are worth it. Challenge your prioritisation. Select tests that make a real impact.
Have a workshop with the management to agree on how to report real ROI in a way they understand and care about.

Karl Gilis: Why You Fail at Digital Marketing

Hope is not a strategy. You have to know the basics – why something works or doesn’t.
Offline marketing is about getting attention. Online marketing is about paying attention.
Video backgrounds are the new sliders.
Zoom in into the problems. Don’t make it about you. Make it about them.
If you don’t care about words, you are a decorator, not a designer.

Craig Sullivan: Tools and Techniques for Optimising Cross-device Experiences

If customers cannot read the content, because it is too small, then it’s a marketing whiffle.
We all have product defects, we just don’t know where they are and how much they cost us. But until you have tested it, they are just bad assumptions.
Why don’t we hear about these bugs? Even if nobody complains, it does not mean everything is working fine. Everyone needs a process for finding the defects. Customers will not call.
Most important thing in the checklist: audit of Google Analytics. Otherwise you might have bullshit data, bullshit boards, bullshit dashboards, bullshit executive boards.
Data-driven is a tricky concept. Information does not tell you what to do. You are the lens that needs to figure that out.

Annika Oorn: Optimizing High Converting Websites

Aggregate data is crap as it hides the gold inside the segments
Optimisation is more than just running tests. Find bugs. Get started and move on to automated solutions.
What if you don’t have heaps of traffic?

You can still do personalisation
Look at broad segments
Learn from segments – dig deep
Cross-sell/up-sell
Use micro-conversions
Increase motivation
Qualitative research
First impression tests, user testing before going live (UsabilityHub etc)
Lower the statistical significance

Focus on upsells, cross-sells and personalization when the conversion rate is already very high

Andy Carvell: Driving Impact on Mobile

Apple App Store and Google Play store have a lot of competition. You would probably find 6-7 functionally identical apps for every idea.
Mobilegrowthstack.com – A framework for strategic mobile growth.

Acquisition
Engagement & Retention
Monetization

Analytics & Insights
Tech

Push notifications. Pretty saturated. In-App messages. Definitely not saturated. Segmented targeted interaction with your user.
Use of in-app messaging to rapidly test segmented onboarding. Impact = Reach x Relevance x Frequency.
Optimise relevance – you can improve it with personalisation. Leverage the demographics, behavior. If the relevance is high enough, people are happy to get the notifications.

Jonathan Epstein: From Darwin to Digital Marketing: Can Evolutionary AI Create More Effective Customer Journeys?

In nature, natural selection has optimal designs. Each species is uniquely optimised for the niche it is in. Modelling evolution this way helps to bring the model to other areas.
Evolutionary principles

Fitness – The fittest web page, the fittest radio antenna, training system..
Combination – if you have 2 better than average design, then you climb a performance hill
Mutation – like in nature, we are looking all the angles of possible ideas.

Evolutionary Optimization: parallel designing – combine two good designs and get a better one. Each generation requires less traffic than a single A/B test. In 15 generations of 40 designs each. This approach allows you to test much more things. They run 6-8 generations to get highest increase of conversion over time.
 Combination of evolution and deep learning. Neural networks connect inputs  (variables: customer profile, device, day of week, time of day) and outputs (what are they going to see).

Lukas Vermeer: Democratizing online controlled experiments at Booking.com

The question with data always is: How did this data come about?
Evidence-based customer-centric product development. You need to have theories about your customer behavior and ask what this test wants to achieve?
Failure is learning. 9/10 tests fail.
Take the biggest small step so you can challenge your riskiest assumptions quickly.
Customer-centric evidence on what they care about. With this approach you will learn what matters to your customers.

Momoko Price: Data-driven copywriting for brand-spanking new products

Worst advice you get for converting copywriting – tweaking random words on pages.
Longstanding conversion-copywriting myth is that conversion copywriting is AB testing, copywriting formula. Actual four steps:

Research the customer mindset
Map out the sales narrative
Leverage cognitive biases – framing, anchoring etc- how humans make decisions
Measure the impact

Good copywriting = Exercising empathy. Listen. Listen at scale.
When you feel it in your gut, you know it must be right. No – that’s confirmation bias.
Great technique for copywriting – online review mining. Instead of writing your message from scratch, steal it directly from your prospects. Go to a review site and steal from there – Tripadvisor, Airbnb, Amazon

Ivan Bager: Storytelling with data

Storytelling is good for idea pitches, one-off analysis, board meetings, sales efforts, persuasion of stakeholders.
When narrative is coupled with data, it helps to explain to your audience what’s happening in the data and why a particular insight is important.
When visuals and graphs are applied to data, they can enlighten the audience to insights that they wouldn’t otherwise.
Connect the narrative to your story by linking it to events and conclusions in the data. Visuals doesn’t have to be graphs, use images of the people involved.
Analyse your audience member’s frame of mind to help them better “hear” you. Structure your story effectively. Instill customer empathy into your audience to increase your story’s memorability.

Robin Langfield Newnham: Optimising for Voice AI in the Post-Website Era

Post-website era: No app. No browser. No search. Voice-only shopping. Voice shopping estimated to hit 40 million dollars by 2022 in the UK and US.
 Use keywordtool.io to identify long-tail questions with voice intent. Look for long-term keywords.
Use SEMRUSH or Ahreds to identify which keywords contain a featured snippet result page.
Create in-depth, mobile-friendly guides that succinctly answer each question.
Use ‘organization’ schema.org markup to gain a knowledge box snippet. Allows Google Home to pull answers about your brand.

Els Aerts: Without Research There Is Nothing

User research is part of every project, may it be information architecture project, conversion optimisation project. You have to do the research for your product/service, website, because it always “depends”.
How much research should you do? Just enough.
Qualitative research: Why? How? In-depth input needed. Interviews. Moderated user testing. Surveys with open questions. Unstructured data. Small.
80% of companies say they are customer-centric. Only 8% of customers agree.
Focus group is not a user test.

Conclusion

It’s a real fun event + you’ll learn a ton.

Elite Camp 2019 dates: June 13-15. Mark your calendars now.

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