Please enable JavaScript to access this page.
Home Blog Page 2

One Problem, Two Mistakes, and One Big, Fat LIE About Email Marketing

0

This is an excerpt from my book, Invisible Selling Machine. I wanted to share it here on the DigitalMarketer blog because I think EVERYONE needs to hear this rant. 

Want a copy of this rant for yourself? Swipe the PDF here.

Here goes…

♦♦♦

invisible-selling-machineEmail is an incredible selling medium, but there’s one big, huge glaring problem.

According to Fortune Magazine, the average person receives 147 emails per day.

Yikes!

Remember the early days of email? People logged into their AOL accounts and smiled with excitement when they heard that familiar voice say:

“You’ve got mail!”

Today, we’re drowning in email with billions of messages hurdling through cyberspace on a daily basis. And it won’t be letting up anytime soon. According to a survey published by email service provider, iContact, 56% of businesses plan to increase their email marketing activity next year.

3.27_Quotebox1There’s a reason for the massive volume of emails businesses send each day: Email marketing works.

In fact, when you apply a solid process to it, email marketing works like a virtual salesman — driving sales day after day on autopilot. And, if you really do it right, it can become an Invisible Selling Machine.

So, why isn’t everyone doing it?

Most business owners I meet are paralyzed by the “small list” myth. They think they need an enormous list of subscribers to make email marketing work for their business.

Not true.

Okay, I’ll admit it…

All other things being equal — a bigger list is better.

But list size is certainly not the primary driver of email marketing success. I know lots of marketers with great big lists that don’t make a dime because, at the end of the day, it’s not the size of the list that matters… it’s how you use it.

And the simple truth is that most companies don’t know how to use their list. They don’t have a process or a system, and that’s the primary reason business owners declare that email marketing doesn’t work.

The fact is, if you do it wrong, email marketing doesn’t work. That’s why we teach you how to do it right.

But there’s something else we should talk about…

(NOTE: Want to get my full guide to crafting an automated, evergreen email campaign that literally makes sales while you sleep? Claim your copy now.)

ISM_FullPrice

The Great Big Lie

We’ve all heard this before…

“The money is IN the list.”

Don’t fall for it. This is a myth perpetuated by so-called experts peddling lead generation and list building services.

Make no mistake — simply having a list does not guarantee sales. There’s only money to be made from a list if you have a “machine” in place to monetize the list once you have it.

We’ve acquired big businesses with big email lists that were utterly worthless. They had no process to extract money from that list.

3.27_Quotebox2This is what most marketers get wrong. They focus all their efforts on building email lists and almost no effort on how they’re going to make money from that list once they have it. So, as backwards as it may seem, your first priority needs to be HOW you will make money from a prospect or lead. You must first have your process down, and then you can focus on how you will get more leads.

This is why you might think list building is difficult. This is why you might feel stuck. It’s not your fault and you’re certainly not alone, you’ve simply been taught to do things backwards.

Building an email list becomes simple when you understand the system I outline in this book. The Invisible Selling Machine will give you an unfair advantage over 98% of your competition by deploying a simple, copy-and-paste “method” I discovered after hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars in trial and error of selling my own products and services.

These aren’t sneaky, under-handed “black-hat” tricks and hacks, and you won’t be labeled a spammer. In fact, with this method, you’ll actually mail your list less frequently while making MORE money.

Two Crucial Errors

When most marketers get a lead, they make one of two catastrophic errors.

The first big mistake is that they fail to follow-up.

It sounds crazy, but most of the business owners I know (even some of the really good ones) don’t have a single follow-up campaign in place. They send emails to their list when they “feel like it.”

Again, it sounds crazy, because what’s the point of lead generation if you’re not going to follow-up? The problem is most business owners simply don’t know what to mail or how often they should mail.

3.27_Quotebox3Or they’re scared. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard business owners say, “If I email my list, people will unsubscribe.” But if you’re not going to send them emails, what’s the point of building the list in the first place? It’s flawed logic.

The second big mistake marketers make is sending the exact same email to everyone on their list.

The fact is, not every subscriber on your list is created equal. Some are very interested in what you’re selling. Others are somewhat interested and, still, others aren’t interested in what you’re selling at all. At least, not yet.

So should all these subscribers receive the exact same emails at the exact same time? Should they even receive the same number of emails?

Of course not!

Wouldn’t you agree that if a subscriber shows interest in a particular product, service, or topic that they should receive more emails than a less engaged subscriber? And wouldn’t you think if you segmented your subscribers this way that your engaged subscribers would buy more?

And, if you laid off your less engaged subscribers, don’t you think they’d stay on your list longer and maybe even buy something from you at a later date when they’re ready to buy?

Absolutely!

And that’s exactly what a “Machine” does and it does it on 100% autopilot.

If you want to learn to build your “Machine” — no matter the size of your email list — watch this set of (free) training videos

invisible-selling-machine-img2

Don’t forget… this was Chapter 3 of Invisible Selling Machine. You can get the rest of my 5-step guide to crafting an automated, evergreen email campaign that literally makes sales while you sleep here.

ISM_FullPrice

Planning a Website Redesign? See How These Industry Giants Got It Right!

0

Redesigning your website is risky business.

You spend money, time, and resources redesigning, hoping to hit a home run.

3.29_Quotebox1The truth is, you’re just as likely to strike out.

I’ve evaluated thousands of websites in my career and I’m pretty darn good at sniffing out the good ones and I’m equally good at sniffing out the posers. In this post, we’ll be evaluating 14 industry giants that got it right.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of design inspiration from Crayon.co; a design search engine that’s been super useful for coming up with new ideas for DigitalMarketer’s “blow it up” style test strategy—a strategy you’ll hear all about when I have plenty of results to share.

One of the best features Crayon offers is notifications when sites redesign their pages, and the ability to look back at the design before the update for comparison.

Light bulb.

I thought it would be fun to break down these design changes using the same criteria in my 15-point audit to see how they stack up to the previous versions of the site!

These guys are some of the best in the bizznazz, let’s quickly break down the criteria I’m using to evaluate these pages…

DigitalMarketer’s 5 Elements of Optimization

Clarity: If your visitor doesn’t know what the page is about and what’s in it for them in the first few seconds…you’re sunk. The goal here is to:

  • make sure you can properly articulate your offer…
  • make your offer attractive…
  • ensure they know how to take the next step…

Readability: This is a huge factor that is often overlooked on “non-blog” pages. All too often companies go a little crazy with…

  • typefaces
  • characters per line
  • page breaks
  • bolding
  • colors

You need to stay consistent and make content easy to consume. If your text can’t be read, then your message will get lost. 3.29_Quotebox2

Appearance: A professional site design will build trust with new visitors. Authentic imagery, coloration, and a solid visual hierarchy are all crucial factors for your site. You need some sections to stand out more than other and capitalize where it counts.

A site that does this well can subtly accent the most important content while giving the visitor a sense of autonomy.

On-site experience: You need to articulate the purpose, have solid usability for visitors of all skill levels and devices, and fast load times. If anyone of these things are missing, your user will have a hard time using your site and won’t convert.

Navigation: If we’re looking at a landing page, you want minimal navigation, but for all other pages it needs to be intuitive.

OptimizationElements

I’ll break down each variation and share which one has the edge in each category. When it’s all tallied up, we’ll see if the page is going in the right direction or if it still needs some work.

(RELATED: The 15-Point Landing Page Audit)

Let’s take a look at the pages.

Click on the month below to be taken to that set of redesign evaluations!

1. Versace’s Category Page

I love seeing how ecommerce sites try to stand out with design.

I was super excited when I got a notification that there was a massive change to Versace’s category page. Check out the video below to see how things stack up.

Final Score

Previous Version: 0

Updated Version: 3

This was clearly a case of “Give The People What They Want Expect.” The winning variant met the standard ecommerce user’s expectations and felt more like an online shop than an advertisement.

Oh, if you want to read my detailed synopsis and see another review of a B2B software company you can check it out in this installment of my weekly column.

2. Iron Mountain’s Product Page

There is nothing more difficult than coming up with a well-designed B2B page.

The specters of “old design trends” still plague industry giants and due to their poor agility they haven’t been able to make template changes during a time when design entails trust.

(RELATED: [Checklist] 5 Image Elements Worth Testing On Your Landing Page)

Iron Mountain tackled this project with a new service product page. So let’s take a look.

Final Score

Previous Version: 0

Updated Version: 3

So, Iron Mountain really stepped up their game and got out of the dreaded B2B design void. There are still some clarity and usability issues on the page, but that’s nothing some iterative testing can’t fix!

(RELATED: [Checklist] The Comprehensive Guide to Running A Split Test)

3. Freshdesk’s Blog Page

Blog page designs are absolutely crucial.

If you have a page that is tough to digest, people simply won’t read your copy.

A lot of organizations (including DM) are taking a simplistic single column approach to the blog to ensure the content gets all of the attention. However, for media companies, this makes it more difficult to promote new products or indoctrinate readers.

Let’s see how Freshdesk hoped to improve the blog experience while maintaining the two-column structure.

Final Score

Previous Version: 1

Updated Version: 4

Overall the redesigned page is a more focused version that users will appreciate.

I am super curious about that Live Chat feature and if anyone from Freshdesk is reading, I’d love to hear if that’s helped with content consumption (or helped move other metrics).

Both this critique and the Iron Mountain Critique can be found here (with one more design breakdown of a video deliverability provider).

4. Best Buy’s Cable & Internet Service Page

Whenever big companies make changes to content while maintaining the universal header and footer there is a chance that they create the dreaded Frankenpage.

Let’s see if Best Buy creates the most feared design monster with this redesign

Final Score

Previous Version: 0

Updated Version: 4

Despite the limitations, Best Buy was able to dramatically improve the design of their site. Sure, there are some “Frankenpage” features (the cross-sells and “Ultimate Viewing Experience”), but overall they have the right idea and should be able to iterate out an even better page.

(RELATED: Test This, Not That! Swap This Split Testing Bad Practice for 6 Results-Driven Practices)

5. Buffer’s Product Page Redesign

Promoting a product line complete with different branding and naming can be pretty difficult.

How much of your current brand equity do you borrow and how much do you want to make the product stand on its own?

Let’s see how Buffer handles this in this redesign!

Final Score

Previous Version: 2

Updated Version: 3

Wow, I got a little ranty” in that one.

I guess that’s what happens when you get such a close call! The team at Buffer is definitely on the right track and dramatically improved their page. I think the most important change came from updating the copy.

They are actually talking to a specific group, telling them what they offer, and why it is good for them. All the other changes were gravy; the clarity change was the big one!

You can read the full write-up to these redesigns plus see how Cisco attempts to improve their DevNet community page here

So if you made it this far you probably noticed one interesting trend:

All of the updated versions seemingly had the edge!

I wonder how much longer that trend will last… I mean what’s new isn’t always what’s better.

(NOTE: Want DigitalMarketer’s proven 8-Step Optimization Process for turning existing traffic into more leads and more sales? Get our Optimization & Testing Specialist training and certification. Learn more now.)

optimization2

October 2016

6. Uber’s Product Page Redesign

Uber decided to make some sizable content changes to their driver recruitment page. What I was excited to see was a big company making interesting updates without having to deviate too much from the template (this makes it easier to change things and get things rolled out when your dev team is working on things that are “more important”).

Do these image and content changes improve with the latest update or push me to drive for Lyft? Find out in my 9-minute review.

Final Score

Previous Version: 1

Updated Version: 2

So this really could have gone either way, but the updated version had the [very] slight edge. Had they improved some of their clarity and focused more on the driver rather than the app, then this would have been a landslide. However, it just squeaked by as two major factors were a “no contest” because the design scheme remained the same.

7. Kissmetric’s Homepage Redesign

As a fan of Kissmetrics and being a part of their target audience, I was super hyped to get an alert about this recent redesign. Find out if my excitement continues when I see the new redesign or fizzles out into disappointment in this 11-minute review.

Final Score

Previous Version: 4

Updated Version: 0

IT FINALLY HAPPENED! I’ve been doing these redesign reviews for quite a while and this is the first time the previous version won out. Here’s why:

  • There was a lack of clarity by removing key feature sections.
  • The new layout made it harder to read the page (white text on light blue background… yuck).

The one thing I was happy to see is they got rid of the awkward choice to request a demo or start a trial in the header. Unfortunately, it was still a choice to make in the last content section, which made me have to pull some of that praise back.

8. Mixpanel’s Pricing Page

Ah the pricing page, my most recent obsession based on my work here at DM. When I saw this update I jumped for joy and you’ll find out exactly why in this 8-minute review.

Final Score

Previous Version: 0

Updated Version: 4

This is the second near sweep and had there not been a “no contest” in one of the categories, then it would have been a full sweep. Simply put, this new page is WAY better than the sad table they had before. Awesome work, Mixpanel!

9. Cisco’s Solutions Page

One of my favorite type of redesigns is when you get an “old web” page versus a page that both looks and functions like something that was made for the present. However, does Cisco’s new polish improve the functionality, or is it just lipstick on a pig?

Find out in my 9-minute review.

Final Score

Previous Version: 0
Updated Version: 5

It’s a clean sweep; take that old school three column text-heavy layouts. In all seriousness, this update isn’t perfect but is miles ahead of its predecessor. There is one spot in particular that is a genius improvement but completely lacks in execution.

10. Lyft’s Sign Up Page

This might be my most surprising review today! There are two drastically different pages: one the ugly interstitial form vs. the pretty landing page. Find out if what is pretty should perform better in Lyft’s 7-minute review.

Final Score

Previous Version: 4

Updated Version: 1

Well, that was a surprise! The moral of this story is to avoid extraneous elements and keep the visitor focused on the task at hand. Furthermore, make it as easy as possible for them to sign up, e.g., Sign Up with Facebook.

This review is reliant on the assumption that this is between two “Sign Up Pages.” Whenever you include an inline form on a page you have to do they heavy lifting of educating and persuading your office, in addition to optimizing the form itself!

The previous version had to do less work, was clear, and had better functionality.

Wow! This batch surprised me. There was only one case where the reviews were close and TWO cases where the previous version definitely had the edge. If you liked these reviews, give us a like on YouTube and please comment there to share your thoughts (no trolls please).

(NOTE: Want DigitalMarketer’s proven 8-Step Optimization Process for turning existing traffic into more leads and more sales? Get our Optimization & Testing Specialist training and certification. Learn more now.)

optimization2

April 2017

11. Spotify’s Sign Up Page

Two of my favorite things: form pages and Spotify… this one is going to be fun.

Let’s see how Spotify tackles their redesign in the 9-minute video below:

Final Results

Previous Version: 2

Updated Version: 2

So, I feel a little lame leaving this at a draw, but I think this is more of an opportunity for Spotify than a cop-out for me!

Both of these pages are solid.

What they need to focus on is serving this page to the correct audience.

The updated variant feels more like a bare bones landing page relying on brand whereas the other is a traditional sign up page. If people are coming to the website directly, show the new variant and if they are coming from an internal link show the old variant!

Oh – also kill that CAPTCHA with fire. You are incredibly good with data and must have a better way to catch spam.

12. Draftkings’ Mobile Homepage

Draftkings is constantly updating their site, but it’s generally their above the fold offer that gets the treatment while the rest of the content remains the same.

This lead me to look for any “major” updates, and I started digging into their mobile experience.

They made some slight changes. But overall, were these changes enough to make a difference or did their sleeper pick stay asleep? Watch the 11-minute video below to find out:

Final Results

Previous Version: 0

Updated Version: 3

Draftkings made some minor changes that could have amounted to some big wins, but it’s my guess they didn’t see much of a difference between the two versions. Both variations have a sub-par user experience and the Updated Variation won out because it tightened the messaging above the fold.

Ideally, I’d like to see this go back to the drawing board and for Draftkings to try something brand new.

13. Cisco’s About us Page

I was super excited to see that Cisco had done another massive update to their site! Last time they launched a redesign, I gave it a perfect 5 score against its predecessor.

Can they get this again? Watch this critique to find out!

Final Results

Previous Version: 0

Updated Version: 5

Hot dang they did it again! Whoever is designing these pages at Cicso… well, give them a raise.

The new page gets out of the dated Enterprise software template and brings them into the modern design age.

This isn’t all a facelift! Cisco…

  • Builds a page that tells a better story
  • Use visuals to prime the visitor
  • Gives better direction surrounding what to do next

Great work and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

14. Ghostery’s Homepage

As a long time Ghostery user, I was curious to see how they’ve updated their homepage. It looks like they went from a longer form “You’re Here” style homepage to a more specific squeeze page.

Did that work? Find out my thoughts in my video critique:

Final Results

Previous Version: 2

Updated Version: 3

This one was CLOSE.

Really the only reason the updated version won was because of the unified message. They really fell flat in terms of design and the lack of content really hurt the page. Maybe they can merge the two designs to come up with a “compromise” page that increases both brand awareness and conversions.

Oh! If you want to get these redesign alerts to see what other organizations are up to, signup for the Blink newsletter.

(NOTE: Want DigitalMarketer’s proven 8-Step Optimization Process for turning existing traffic into more leads and more sales? Get our Optimization & Testing Specialist training and certification. Learn more now.)

optimization2

Which Content Marketing Strategies Have the Biggest Impact on Keyword Rankings?

0

The term “content marketing” is a wide umbrella.

It encompasses a plethora of different strategies and techniques.

But at the end of the day, one of your primary goals is to create content that ranks as highly as possible on search engine results pages (SERPs).

This is important because organic traffic is the number one means of generating traffic for many companies.

A study from The Bright Edge even “found that organic search drives 51 percent of all visitors to B2B and B2C websites trumping all other non-organic channels.”

image04

This means one thing.

You need to figure out the relationship between content marketing strategies and keyword rankings.

This is instrumental in fine-tuning your content marketing campaign and finding the right areas to focus on.

In this post, I analyze data from multiple studies and draw on my own knowledge and experience to give you a clear idea of the content strategies demanding the most attention.

So, let’s see which strategies have the biggest impact on keyword rankings.

Rich content

I won’t waste your time telling you about the importance of creating quality content.

You already know that.

But I’d like to share with you this statistic from an infographic on Quick Sprout:

image07

That’s a lot of links!

And I’m sure you know the integral role links play in SEO.

This graph from Moz illustrates the importance of links and their influence on Google’s algorithm:

image00

Let’s put this information together.

When you create rich content, it gets you more links.

These links improve your overall SEO, which improves your rankings.

So, being diligent about achieving and maintaining rigorous quality standards should be of the utmost concern.

Long-form content

Here’s the deal with long-form content.

It’s hot right now. Scorching hot.

I remember a few years ago when your average blog post was only somewhere around 500 words.

But if you look at the vast majority of content that ranks on page one of Google SERPs today, it’s rare that you’ll find anything under 1,000 words.

To prove just how important long-form has become, I would like to show you a couple of graphs.

The first is from a fairly old (September 2012) article I wrote on Quick Sprout.

I got the data from research performed by SerpIQ:

image02

As you can see, every single piece of content that ranked on the first page had at least 2,000 words.

More specifically,

The first result typically has 2,416 words and the 10th result has 2,032 words.

Newer research (September 2016) from Brian Dean of Backlinko shows a similar pattern:

image08

According to his research,

The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,890.

That’s over 500 words fewer than the original research from SerpIQ indicated back in 2012…526 to be exact.

But it still shows us long-form content is a key element in achieving solid rankings.

Why is this so?

The way I look at it, there are two main reasons for this phenomenon.

First, people have a tendency to scan through content these days.

Few actually sit down and read a 2,000-word piece word for word in its entirety.

Instead, they scan through and look at the sub-headers that grab their attention and may read little snippets of text from there.

Long-form content facilitates this new method of reading.

Second, a longer word count tends to translate into more links.

And this makes sense.

The more content you provide, the more opportunities for it to be linked to.

Put all this together, and you can see that long-form content means higher rankings.

Who knows, the whole “long-form content bubble” may pop in a few years.

But it’s stronger than ever at the moment.

However, it appears that the ideal word count has been reduced considerably, and you should aim for just south of 2,000 words.

How do you create 2,000-word content?

  • Decide on a specific and narrow topic.
  • Create a compelling title.
  • Discuss the issue from every angle.
  • Provide as much detail as possible.
  • If possible, provide step-by-step instructions on how to do something.

You should never stuff your articles with words just for the sake of hitting a word count.

But you should strive for detail, depth, clarity, and mastery of a subject matter.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about long-form content. When you truly make an effort to provide value in your content, it expands in length.

That’s not to say that you can’t provide value with a 400-word article.

But the level of value created in a 2,000-word article is usually much greater.

Content with “topical relevance”

But the plot thickens.

The same Backlinko article also points out that

content rated as “topically relevant” significantly outperformed content that didn’t cover a topic in-depth. Therefore, publishing focused content that covers a single topic may help with rankings.

image05

Topical relevance basically combines my first two points of creating rich content and long-form content.

It simply means that Google values content that’s comprehensive and that thoroughly covers a topic.

This means it’s best to focus on a single topic for each piece of content you create.

Rather than bouncing around from subject to subject, you’re better off going all in on a single topic and leaving no stone unturned.

Does this mean you can’t discuss other topics?

No. In fact, you should touch on as many relevant topics as possible! But your focus should be on a single topic.

If you feel you need to cover a topic you weren’t able to get around to in the post, create a separate piece of content and cover it in-depth as well.

Using long-tail keywords

This strategy has been in existence seemingly since the dawn of SEO—back when SEO was in its primordial soup stage.

One of the main ways small-scale marketers have been competing with the big dogs is by using long-tail keywords.

And why wouldn’t they? It freaking works.

In fact, I’ve been using this strategy for years.

I even used it to grow my search traffic by 51% in just three months!

And guess what? It still works brilliantly.

An infographic from Adept states that “pages optimized for long-tail keywords move up 11 positions on average, compared to just 5 positions for head keywords.”

image03

It’s really not rocket science.

Using long-tail keywords means less competition, which means a greater likelihood of achieving a favorable ranking.

The awesome thing is that long-tail searches account for roughly 70 percent of searches:

image01

This means there’s plenty of opportunity out there.

Of course, you won’t get the same volume of traffic that you would for a head keyword or broad keyword, but you can still generate some sizable traffic if you do your keyword research and choose a phrase that receives a reasonable number of searches.

Check out this post from NeilPatel.com for a step-by-step walkthrough of integrating long-tail keywords into your blog posts.

The process is fairly straightforward:

  • Do your typical keyword research (using Google AdWords Keyword Planner or your preferred tool)
  • Select the long-tail keywords from the list (3 words or more)
  • Use these keywords in your content.

Image-rich content

If you haven’t heard, people respond positively to images.

It’s true.

And although I think the whole visual-centric discussion has been done to death, I would like to reference one more point from the Backlinko article I mentioned earlier.

According to Brian Dean,

Industry studies have found that image-rich pages tend to generate more total views and social shares.

image09

But here’s the interesting thing.

Using at least one image is much better than not using any images at all.

However, they couldn’t find a correlation between the total number of images and rankings.

That means there’s no proof that using a lot of images will improve your rankings any further.

In other words, using just one image would in theory have the same effect as using 10 or more images.

The key takeaway is this:

Using a single image is clearly better than zero images. Including lots of images doesn’t seem to have an impact on search engine rankings.

When it comes to my posts, this information isn’t going to stop me from sprinkling plenty of images throughout my content.

In fact, you probably know that many of my posts are jam-packed with images.

I think my audience enjoys the “eye candy,” and graphs in particular are excellent for explaining fairly complex concepts.

But keep this in mind when creating your next piece of content: going nuts with images probably isn’t necessary.

Direct answers

If you’re not sure what I mean by “direct answers,” it’s simple.

Google is now starting to show direct answers when you use a “how to,” “what is,” “who is,” etc. type of search.

Here’s an example:

image06

The first thing that pops up at the top of the page is a clip from the top ranking site.

It’s a way to streamline the process and offer searchers direct information without them having to actually click on the link.

Of course, oftentimes they’ll still click on the link to find more in-depth information.

I know I often do.

So, here’s the deal.

Providing a direct answer can be beneficial and a viable strategy for killing it on SERPs.

If you can provide a quick, logical, and direct answer, especially for a long-tail keyword phrase, there’s a good chance you can get your content featured at the top.

Just be sure your direct answer transitions smoothly into the rest of your content.

Here’s how I typically use this strategy:

  • Identify a question marketers are asking.
  • Create an article answering this question.
  • Provide a step-by-step solution to the issue.

When I follow this three-step process, the articles I write on those topics usually rank on page one for the associated keyword within five days or less.

This is the primary technique I’m currently using on NeilPatel.com, and it’s earned me over 800,000 unique monthly visitors.

Conclusion

I value objectivity when determining the approach of my content marketing strategy.

I find that examining the cold hard facts clears most biases and preconceived notions I might have.

This is important because this gives me the clearest path to achieving my goals.

While there are countless factors that contribute to keyword rankings, the ones I listed here appear to have the biggest impact pound-for-pound.

Putting your attention on these key areas should ensure that your content marketing is heading in the right direction while giving you the best chance of climbing in the SERPs.

What do you think the most important content marketing strategy for improving your rankings is?

26 Marketing Tools for Non-Tech-Savvy Marketers

0

Marketing tools are essential for streamlining and automating the more arduous aspects of the process.

The only issue is that you’ve got to actually learn how to use them.

You have to learn their capabilities, their limitations as well as their nuances.

It’s no biggie if you’re tech-inclined.

But what if you’re not so tech-savvy?

Using marketing tools can nearly negate the purpose if it’s a struggle just to figure them out.

That’s why I compiled a list of 26 marketing tools for non-tech-savvy marketers.

Each one is practical and user-friendly and requires a minimal learning curve. Many are even free.

Content creation

1. WordPress

Let’s start with the absolute basics: WordPress.

You could consider it to be the “OG” of content management systems.

As of late 2015, it powered 25% of the world’s websites.

image15

And it’s very likely that number is even bigger today.

A large part of WordPress’ appeal is its utter simplicity and non-technical nature.

You can create and maintain a beautiful website with literally zero knowledge of coding.

And if you happen to understand HTML, you can completely crush it.

If you want to create a site for your business or blog, I highly recommend WordPress.

You can learn how to do it from scratch with this video from Quick Sprout.

2. Google Drive

When it comes to cloud storage, I think of Google Drive as being the universal platform.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve worked with clients or business partners who’ve made Google Drive their platform of choice.

Like most Google products, it’s super intuitive and easy to use.

I use it for writing and backing up content as well as for sharing content with others.

It’s perfect if you have multiple people working on a project because sharing and editing is a cinch.

Besides docs, you can create slideshows, drawings, spreadsheets, and more.

3. Grammarly

I don’t care if you’re Mark Twain, everyone is bound to make mistakes when writing.

Whether it’s a silly spelling error or poor grammar, it’s impossible to catch everything.

But Grammarly will do just that (or pretty darn close to it).

Add it to Chrome, and Grammarly will monitor everything you write, point out any issues, and offer advice on how to resolve them.

It goes above and beyond Word and will make you look like an expert even if your writing skills are lackluster:

image07

The cool thing is that it will also scan your emails before sending them out so you don’t look like an idiot when corresponding to customers or clients.

I highly recommend it!

4. Word Counter

Word count is kind of a big deal, especially if you’re writing long-form content and need to reach a specific number of words.

But not all online writing platforms display word count.

I love this tool because I can quickly copy and paste a body of text, and Word Counter will let me know how many words I’ve written.

image04

It’s super quick, and I’ve never experienced any sort of glitch.

Content ideas

5. Google Trends

Coming up with new ideas for content can be a major struggle.

Even if you’re an expert, it’s not always easy to come up with stellar ideas.

I’ve found Google Trends to be a great place for getting a sense of what’s popular at the moment.

Often, it will point me in the right direction, and I can then use it to gauge the exact interest in a particular topic.

For instance, here’s how the interest in content marketing has grown over the past five years:

image11

6. Alltop

Using Alltop is a breeze.

Simply type in a search phrase, and hundreds of popular blog posts on that topic will pop up:

image14

I use this for brainstorming all the time, and Alltop has helped me come up with some epic ideas for blog posts.

7. BuzzSumo

Words cannot express how much I love BuzzSumo.

Pretty much anyone can figure it out within minutes, and it’s the perfect tool for generating an arsenal of content ideas.

But what separates it from other tools is the fact that it provides you with key info such as:

  • how much engagement content receives
  • who is sharing it
  • links pointing back to the content

image13

The only caveat is that you must purchase the Pro version to unlock all the features.

But you can still do a basic search with the free version.

8. Ubersuggest

This one is a bit like the Google Keyword Tool, only simpler.

Enter a search term, and Ubersuggest will spit out dozens or even hundreds of ideas:

image05

It’s really easy to use, and it’ll keep supplying you with topics whenever you need them.

Communication and collaboration

9. Basecamp

If WordPress is the OG CMS, Basecamp is the OG of project management and team collaboration.

Countless other products have been developed, many of which are cooler and sexier.

But Basecamp still retains its status and continues to be one of the big dogs.

I love its clean interface and how intuitive it is.

It’s very non-intimidating even for the most non-tech-savvy of marketers.

10. Trello

At this point, you probably know I’m big on visuals.

Images make it easier for me to absorb information and stay on top of my game.

That’s why I love Trello.

It involves a system of boards where you can communicate with colleagues and keep tabs on project progress.

image08

It can easily be scaled up or down as necessary and can really boost productivity.

I know many people who swear by it.

11. Asana

This is another visual-oriented platform that I’ve used on several occasions.

I prefer Basecamp over Asana, but it’s the number one team-collaboration platform for many marketers.

In fact, some companies that use it include TED, The New Yorker, and Uber.

My favorite aspect of Asana is the ease with which I can track a project from start to finish.

I’m a stickler for deadlines, so this helps me ensure they’re always met without a lot of stress.

image17

12. Slack

When I think of Slack, I think of hipsters. But in a very good way.

It’s perhaps the coolest, sleekest, sexiest collaboration app in existence.

And it’s dead simple to use.

Slack revolves around creating “channels” where you communicate with team members either publicly or privately.

Drag and drop your files to share with others, and search your archive any time you need specific information.

Slack makes it easy.

Task management

13. Wunderlist

I stay busy, so it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when I’m bombarded with a barrage of tasks on a daily basis.

One of my favorite weapons to counter that is Wunderlist.

image09

I place it on my desktop so I can see exactly what’s going on and what I need to take care of on any given day.

And, of course, I can also access it from my smartphone or tablet.

I can easily save links, photos, and other media I want to keep.

I also use it to set reminders of specific tasks’ deadlines and make note of any business/project ideas that pop into my head.

In other words, Wunderlist helps me keep my you-know-what together.

14. WordPress Editorial Calendar Plugin

If you use WordPress (like I recommend), you’ll want to take advantage of this plugin.

It’s a little like Google Calendar, but specifically for scheduling your blog posts.

You can:

  • Manage drafts
  • See what’s been posted
  • See what needs to be posted
  • Manage posts from different authors

image01

Like most things on WordPress, it’s user-friendly, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out its features.

15. Todoist

The tagline of this platform is “Accomplish more, every day.”

And that’s fitting because I’ve found Todoist to be a major catalyst for productivity.

You simply record tasks, prioritize them as needed, collaborate with others, and get stuff done.

I love its no-nonsense interface and minimalist vibe.

SEO

16. Yoast SEO

This is another WordPress plugin and one that I highly recommend if you’re fairly new to the SEO game.

Here’s a screenshot of its features:

image03

In other words, it handles nearly every major aspect of SEO.

The best part is its simplicity.

I love Yoast SEO because it’s very hands off and automates many of the more arduous SEO tasks like creating optimized URLs, keeping track of keyword density, and so on.

Before you publish your content, Yoast SEO will rate its readability and your keyword usage by giving it a color: red for poor, orange for okay, and green for good.

image06

If you loathe the technical nature of SEO, this is a great plugin to use.

17. Google Keyword Planner

If you were to use only one tool for performing keyword research, this is it.

Even the biggest SEO nerd will agree that it’s useful because you’re gathering data right from the horse’s mouth—Google itself.

The cool thing is that you don’t need to be technically adept to figure it out. Most of the features are pretty self-explanatory.

18. MozBar

In my opinion, Moz is perhaps the Internet’s number one resource for all things SEO.

I especially love its Whiteboard Fridays, offering in-depth analysis and insight.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to determine key SEO metrics like links, page authority, and domain authority, I highly recommend MozBar.

Simply add it to your Chrome toolbar, and you’re good to go.

19. SEMrush

This is another great SEO tool that’s amazingly easy to use.

Just enter a URL or keyword, and you instantly get a boatload of useful information such as:

  • Organic search volume
  • Backlinks
  • Top organic keywords
  • Main organic competitors
  • Branded search

image12

If you’re looking to perform competitive analysis for keyword or content opportunities, look no further than SEMrush.

Images

20. Canva

If you’re creating content, you’ll need plenty of beautiful visuals.

In my opinion, Canva is hands down one of the best platforms for creating your own images and documents from scratch.

It’s really easy, and Canva offers a wide array of images that are totally free.

image00

You can modify them as needed for your content or for branding purposes.

The best part is that you can do this with virtually no design experience.

21. PicMonkey

PicMonkey is a photo editor that allows you to design, resize, do touch-ups, create collages, and a lot more.

Using it is no sweat even if you have no clue what you’re doing in terms of design.

It’s perfect if you have your own images you want to customize, and PicMonkey helps you make them look like a million bucks.

22. Pixabay

Here’s my take on stock photos.

I prefer to pay for them and get the best of the best.

But if you’re just starting out or are on a budget, Pixabay is one of my top picks.

Everything is royalty-free and available for the public to download, modify, and distribute.

They have a massive archive of pictures that covers most topics, and the quality of their images has really improved over the past couple of years.

Here are just a few samples:

image02

23. Creative Commons

Creative Commons is basically an aggregator of images free to use for commercial purposes. These images can be modified, adapted, or built upon.

You enter a search query, and choose from multiple platforms like Flickr, Wikimedia Commons, Open Clip Art Library, and even Google.

image10

It’s a great tool for streamlining your image search.

Metrics

24. Google Analytics

There are countless metrics platforms out there for measuring your website’s performance, traffic numbers, and so on.

But I think it’s safe to say that Google Analytics is the be-all and end-all tool.

The free version is more than sufficient for diagnosing your website and, in my opinion, quite easy to use.

I’ll admit there is a bit of a learning curve, but most people can figure out the basics in a day or two.

25. Bitly

Bitly is perhaps best known for being a URL shortener.

In fact, I use it all the time for condensing URLs on my Twitter page:

image16

But it’s useful for way more than that.

Here’s the deal.

Bitly allows you to track individual links and gather key information about their performance.

You can tell what your audience is responding to (or not) and tweak your marketing efforts accordingly.

26. Clicky

Finally, there’s Clicky.

Despite its comprehensiveness and level of detail, I consider it to be one of the most user-friendly analytics tools.

You can see what’s happening on your website in real time, monitor the actions of visitors, and even look at heat maps, which I love.

I know some marketers who actually choose Clicky over Google Analytics.

Conclusion

I totally understand the frustration that many non-tech-savvy marketers feel.

There are many tools that are great but require serious knowledge to be utilized properly.

These can really cramp your style and drive you crazy.

But the marketing tools I’ve listed are ones that will get the job done without being overly complex.

With most, the core features can be learned within just a few minutes.

This way, you can spend less time trying to figure out your marketing tools and more time reaching your audience.

Can you suggest any other easy-to-use marketing tools?

How to Blast Away the Top 15 Conversion Roadblocks on Your Website

0

Conversion rate optimization has never been bigger than it is today.

Just look at how much interest in conversion rate optimization has increased over the past decade:

image15

And there are more and more conversion rate optimization (CRO) agencies popping up every day.

A quick search on Google for “conversion rate optimization agency” gave me nearly one million results:

image00

This tells me one thing: many companies have lousy conversion rates.

According to Econsultancy, “only about 22 percent of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.”

So, what’s going wrong?

The issue with CRO is that there is a plethora of potential problem areas.

It’s not always easy to pinpoint precisely where the issue lies.

But based on my experience and research, there are 15 primary conversion roadblocks that disrupt the process and turn would-be customers away.

If your conversions aren’t where they should be, it’s very possible that at least one of these issues is the culprit.

In this post, I describe these problem areas and offer advice on how to fix them.

I’ll start with the more technical aspects and work my way down to onsite content and, ultimately, the checkout process itself.

1. Slow load time

Before you can ever spark initial interest, you must get visitors to actually browse through your site.

If they abandon your site before it loads, you’re guaranteed to have a zero percent conversion rate.

Not good.

Quite honestly, slow load time is an issue that still plagues many companies today, and that’s because people have little patience.

Here’s what I mean.

Research has found that “nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.”

image12

In the case of website conversions, a lack of speed kills.

If you think this is a problem for you, I recommend checking out these two resources:

10 Ways to Speed Up Your Website — and Improve Conversion by 7 Percent

How to Make Your Site Insanely Fast

2. Wrong color scheme

When it comes to choosing the color for a site’s design, I feel like many people just use something they think looks cool.

Often, they don’t consider the underlying psychology behind a particular color scheme.

But color may play a bigger role in conversions than you may think.

In fact, “studies suggest that people make a subconscious judgment about a product within 90 seconds of initial viewing. Up to 90 percent of that assessment is based on color alone.”

image02

Here are some examples of the meanings of certain colors in the Western world:

image08

The point I’m trying to make here is that you shouldn’t haphazardly choose a color scheme.

Instead, you should carefully choose colors based on the type of emotion you want visitors to feel.

It can have a tremendous impact on conversions and put leads in the buying mindset.

For more on this topic, check out these two resources:

The Complete Guide to Understanding Consumer Psychology

The Psychology of Color: How to Use Colors to Increase Conversion Rate

3. Confusing navigation

Two words should define your site’s navigation: simple and intuitive.

If your navigation is in any way confusing or complicated, your conversion rate is likely to take a hit.

Allow me to provide you with a couple of examples of this.

Here’s a site where navigation is in a non-standard location:

image07

This can throw people off because they’re expecting to find it at the top or on either side of the page.

Another mistake that can be a conversion roadblock is having too many navigation items:

image09

This can have a paralyzing effect on visitors: they will likely become so overwhelmed that they won’t know where to get started.

Either one of these issues is going to lead to a high bounce rate and low conversions.

The fix is to keep it simple and intuitive, which you can learn more about in this post from Kissmetrics.

4. Cluttered design

Have you ever come across something like this?

image13

Or this?

image11

These sites are messy, cluttered and can lead to a cognitive overload, which isn’t going to do your conversion rate any favors.

I enjoy sites with a minimalist feel, like this:

image04

In fact, that’s what I aim for on Quick Sprout, Crazy Egg, and NeilPatel.com.

I recommend doing the same for your website.

Although you don’t necessarily want it to seem sterile, a simple, fresh design should put your visitors at ease and lower your bounce rate.

5. Crappy imagery

The word “crappy” may seem vague, but I think you know what I mean.

I refer to bad stock photos that come across as inauthentic.

Kind of like these:

image14

“Overly corporate” stock photos are the worst.

Of course, visuals are important.

As Loyalty Square reports,

a research conducted by the Seoul International Color Expo 2004 suggested that 

  • 92.6% people take into concern the visual factor while making purchases
  • 84.7% of the total respondents think that color is [more] important than many other factors while choosing products for buying.

But you want to be very selective with the images you use.

I prefer spending a little money upfront for some quality stock images.

Sites like Shutterstock and Fotolia tend to be good.

If you’re going to use a royalty-free image site, I suggest be diligent about your quality standards.

For instance, Pixabay is one of the best for free images.

You may also want to experiment with making your own images, which you can learn about here.

Regardless of the path you take, just stay away from crappy imagery because it’s going to hurt your conversions and reputation.

6. Excessive options

Several studies have been conducted on the topic of options and the impact of those options on consumers.

The overarching consensus is this: having too many choices reduces the likelihood of a purchase.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to showcase a few different products.

But you don’t want to drown your visitors in a seemingly infinite number of options because it’s inevitably going to overwhelm them.

You’ll notice that I make it a point to minimize the number of options on all my sites, and it’s worked out beautifully.

image01

7. Missing or hard to find contact info

I was honestly a little surprised when I came across the following stats regarding contact info from KoMarketing:

  • “Once on a company’s homepage, 64 percent of visitors want to see the company’s contact information.”
  • “44 percent of website visitors will leave a company’s website if there’s no contact information or phone number.”
  • “51 percent of people think ‘thorough contact information’ is the most important element missing from many company websites.”

I knew that having some means of contact was important but not necessarily that critical.

But these stats show that your conversion rate will basically be cut in half if there’s no contact info or phone number.

So it’s super important to include this information in a conspicuous area.

8. Spelling/grammatical errors

I know we’re all human, and humans make mistakes.

But spelling/grammatical errors can be costly. Really costly.

image05

One study in particular found that “59 percent of people would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website or marketing material.”

In other words, nearly six out of 10 would-be customers will abandon your site if they come across these types of errors.

This is why it’s so important to be hyper-diligent, and you may even want to use a free tool like Grammarly when writing copy, blog posts, or other content.

9. Stale content

Here’s one that might not be so obvious: having outdated content on your blog.

I instantly become skeptical of a company if its blog hasn’t been updated in at least six months.

I wonder if they even care.

If you run a blog, be sure to update it fairly frequently.

This doesn’t need to be every week, but it should be once a month at an absolute minimum.

10. Crazy salesy copy

Did you know that “approximately 96 percent of visitors that come to your website are not ready to buy?”

If you go right for the jugular and beat them over the head with “salesy copy,” many will run.

In other words, using too much hype or BS and sounding like a sleazy used car salesman is going to hurt your conversions.

Instead, most leads need to be warmed up before they’re ready to buy.

I suggest checking out this post from Kissmetrics for advice on writing persuasive copy without any “icky gimmicks” that could turn off your audience.

11. No social proof

Anyone can make claims on their website.

Today’s customers want to know you can walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

Social proof in the form of testimonials, positive press, and social shares can go a long way.

One of my favorites is media icons (otherwise known as logo porn), which showcases companies you’ve partnered with, written for, or done business with.

image06

That can instantly quell any doubt that may have arisen in a visitor’s mind.

12. No trust elements

Trust elements include things such as:

  • A badge from the Better Business Bureau
  • Indication of secure payment processing
  • Return and refund policies
  • Detailed product information
  • Unbiased reviews

If you’re missing these types of trust elements, it’s going to be difficult to get your leads over “the buying hump.”

I suggest reading this post from ConversionXL for a comprehensive list of ways to boost your website’s credibility.

13. Annoying sign-ups

You know what people really hate?

Those long-winded sign-up forms with fields that just seem to go on and on.

I’ve abandoned numerous sites when I got hit with these.

If you’re a first-time shopper, you don’t want to waste your time entering loads of info just to make a purchase.

Or as one disgruntled online shopper phrased it,

“I’m not here to enter into a relationship. I just want to buy something.”

The bottom line is to reduce the number of fields a person has to go through to make a purchase.

Or better yet, ditch it all together, and let someone check out as a guest.

Going this route can result in a surge in conversions. If you’ve never read The $300 Million Dollar Button, I greatly recommend it.

It touches on this topic and highlights a real-life case study.

14. An arduous checkout process

This roadblock piggybacks on the previous one.

Besides having too many forms to fill out, a complicated, exhausting checkout process can really hurt conversions.

Just look at the number of customers that drop off during checkout:

image10

If you’re making people jump through too many hoops or have confusing ordering/shipping policies, it’s going to disrupt things.

A streamlined checkout process will be simple and linear and have a progress indicator so customers can see the steps they’ve completed and still need to complete.

This post from Kissmetrics highlights some common problem areas of the checkout process and explains how to correct them.

15. No A/B testing

Last but not least, there’s the issue of A/B testing.

It’s amazing that many websites still fail to use this simple yet incredibly powerful technique.

Running continuous tests on elements like CTA buttons, colors, and copy can have a major impact:

image03

I really like this article from ConversionXL for learning both the basics and more advanced techniques of this A/B testing.

Conclusion

There is a lot happens between the time when a person lands on your site and when they actually complete a purchase.

And that’s why a lot can go wrong.

Understanding some of the most common roadblocks and diagnosing them can make the process go far smoother.

I’ve found the 15 issues in this post to be some of the most pervasive.

But making the necessary fixes can be your ticket to boosting conversions and getting the most out of your traffic.

What’s been your main conversion obstacle? How did you overcome it?

28 Business-Boosting Marketing Activities You Can Do in 1 Hour or Less

0

The entrepreneurial lifestyle is often a hectic one.

Some “treps” easily end up working 50, 60, or even more hours per week.

Don’t get me wrong.

I love almost everything about running my businesses and blogs, but time is definitely at a premium.

And I’m sure many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day to spend on an extensive, exhaustive marketing campaign.

But you know what?

There are a lot of marketing activities that can get legitimate results that you can do in 1 hour or less.

I came up with 28 specific activities you can do in your downtime but which will still give your business a nice boost.

Here we go.

1. Create an editorial calendar

Almost any great blog begins with a detailed editorial calendar.

This is where you coordinate your content, schedule your posts, set deadlines, list your CTAs, and so on.

In other words, an editorial calendar provides structure to your blogging campaign and keeps things from getting messy.

image03

Honestly, this is the only way I’m able to stay on top of my game (and maintain sanity) with all of my different projects.

I recommend checking out this list of editorial calendar templates from Builtvisible for more.

2. Tweak your editorial calendar

You should also know that an editorial calendar is never static.

A good one is dynamic, ever-changing.

If you haven’t checked your editorial calendar in a while, look it over and make any necessary adjustments.

For instance, you might:

  • Check off posts that have been completed
  • Add new content to create over the next month
  • Look for ways to make it more organized

3. Read three industry blog posts

I really recommend staying on top of industry trends.

This is your ticket to spotting patterns, generating new marketing ideas, and coming up with interesting new content to share with your audience.

That’s why I try to make it a habit to read three high-level industry blog posts whenever I get a chance.

4. Comment on three industry blogs

When you’re done reading, leave a thoughtful comment.

Go for more than just saying, “I love this blog post!”

Instead, shoot for something more detailed and insightful to prove you’ve really sifted through the information and analyzed it.

Here’s a great example of a recent comment I received on Quick Sprout:

image00

I think this comment added even more depth to the conversation, and I can guarantee you any blogger would greatly appreciate such a comment.

I know I do.

5. Research industry trends

The way I see it, crushing it in most businesses is all about striking while the iron is hot.

That’s why I routinely do industry research to see what’s happening and stay on top of recent changes.

A quick Google search on “[your industry] trends” should pop up a wealth of information.

This can shape your business and marketing decisions and will help you stay sharp as an entrepreneur.

6. Brainstorm topics for your blog

As I’ve said before, coming up with new ideas for blog posts can be quite exhausting.

That’s why I like to devote some time to simply brainstorming new ideas so I don’t have to come up with them off the top of my head.

One of the ways I streamline this process is by using Alltop and BuzzSumo.

Here’s Alltop:

image05

And here’s BuzzSumo:

image11

They’re both great for seeing what’s popular and for generating ideas.

Sometimes, I can come up with as many as 50 rock solid ideas in just 1 hour this way.

7. Do keyword research

I’m a big fan of a process known as “batching,” which I’ve written about before on Quick Sprout.

Batching can be used to make nearly any task quicker and more efficient.

Here’s a simple example of using batching to deliver mail:

image10

One marketing task that can be quite time-consuming is keyword research.

When you do this prior to writing every blog post, it can really drain your time.

That’s why I suggest doing it in blocks: identify keywords to target—all in one sitting.

You can then add your keywords to your editorial calendar so you know what to use in your upcoming content.

8. Send a pitch for a guest post

You probably already know I’m a huge proponent of guest blogging.

If you can get in front of a large, established audience, you’ll get exposure for your brand.

It’s just as simple as that.

But, of course, guest blogging first begins with sending an initial pitch.

If you’ve got an hour to burn, why not send out a couple of pitches to relevant bloggers?

And if you’re new to this, I really love this guide from Backlinko.

It will walk you through guest blogging step by step.

9. Repurpose one of your best blog posts

If you’ve been blogging for awhile, there’s a good chance you have a handful of posts that totally crushed it.

They’re the best of the best—your “unicorn content.”

Repurpose one of your best posts using a different medium, e.g., a whitepaper, long-form guide, infographic, or a short e-book.

If your audience was receptive to a particular topic presented in a standard blog post, there’s a good chance they will give it a warm reception in a different medium too.

Read over this guide for everything you need to know on repurposing content.

10. Record a video

Video marketing is ridiculously huge right now.

On average, video gets crazy engagement.

image08

It also gets massive conversion rates.

image09

If you’re not already leveraging video marketing, I suggest getting on board right away.

I know for a fact that video allows me to connect with my audience on a level that most other mediums cannot.

And the odds are good that it will produce a positive impact for you as well.

11. Record a podcast

I friggin’ love podcasts!

Interest in them has grown over the past few years quite a bit:

image01

In my opinion, they’re a great way to “round off” your content and offer your audience an alternative type of media to consume.

At the time of publication of this article, I’ve recorded over 200 podcast episodes on NeilPatel.com and have found it to be a tremendous experience.

image06

Once you figure out the software and equipment, it doesn’t take much effort to record a podcast.

You can easily do it within 1 hour.

If you’re not sure how to get started, check out this guide from Pat Flynn.

12. Make a slideshow

I feel slideshows don’t get a whole lot of love and get lost in the content mix.

But they’ve got plenty of potential and are worth experimenting with.

Slideshare alone had 70 million users as of early 2017 and can be a great way to pull in some extra traffic.

13. Create a picture quote

I’m sure you’ve seen picture quotes floating on social media.

They look like this:

image12

They’re especially big on Twitter and Instagram and work great for expressing thoughts in a visual-centric way.

The cool thing is that picture quotes are super quick and easy to make.

Canva is one of my favorite platforms because it offers a large library of professional images that are mostly free to use.

You can borrow from famous quotes or create your own.

14. Share three epic posts on social media

Curating content is an integral part of the social media marketing process.

You definitely want to shine the spotlight on other people’s great work rather than shamelessly self-promoting your brand.

Whenever you’ve got some free time, search the Internet for three epic posts to share.

To curate content like a boss, check out this guide from Curata.

15. Follow five relevant people

Sometimes I feel my social feed is a little stale.

In which case, I search for a few new follows to spice it up.

You may even be able to make some new contacts, so always be willing to make the first move on social media.

16. Engage with five people on social media

Allow me to piggyback on that last statement.

If you’re looking to expand your network and potentially find new business partners, be always engaging with others.

This hardly takes any time, but commenting or even liking or retweeting great content can sometimes be the catalyst for new opportunities.

17. Engage with five recent followers

It’s also important to engage with the people who follow you and build genuine rapport with your audience.

When you’ve got some spare time, go through your social media accounts and pick out a handful of recent followers.

Then hit them up by thanking them for following you or even start an online conversation.

18. Target an influencer

I’m sure you’ve heard about influencer marketing and how potent it can be as a marketing tool.

And it’s totally true.

But getting to the point where an influencer actually promotes your brand takes time.

The first step in the process is finding someone who is likely to be on board.

One technique I’ve found to be effective when searching for influencers is to use BuzzSumo.

Here’s an example of what pops up after I searched for content marketing influencers:

image02

I think a great way to make use of an hour is to research and target potential influencers in your industry.

To learn about this process, check out this post from NeilPatel.com.

19. Contact an influencer

Once you’ve found an influencer, it’s time for the approach.

This typically involves doing a little research about them, their brand, values, philosophy, etc.

Next, send them an email or contact them via their website to give them your pitch.

I recommend reading this post from Crazy Egg for the skinny on reaching out to influencers.

20. Submit your business to directories

Did you know that 145 million people use Yelp each month?

And that’s just one of many business directories.

If you’re looking for a way to boost your exposure and reel in more local consumers, it’s smart to spend some time submitting your business to relevant directories.

This ultimate list from HubSpot highlights 50 of the best directories for local marketing.

21. Check Google Analytics

It’s important to stay current on key metrics.

I like to know about any visitor traffic patterns and behavior that could impact my ability to make conversions.

If you haven’t checked Google Analytics (or whatever type of metrics platform you use) in a while, it’s smart to spend some time there.

In particular, I pay close attention to the amount of time people spend on my site, referrals, and audience interests.

image07

22. Analyze your top competitors

If you’ve got some extra time on your hands, you may want to see what the competition is up to.

I suggest identifying three or four of your top competitors and checking the following:

  • Top organic keywords
  • Backlinks
  • Top anchors
  • Referring domains

This will give you some valuable intel on what’s working for them and what you can do to gain the upper hand.

One of my favorite tools for doing this is SEMrush.

It’s free and will supply you with a load of information.

23. Do a content audit

Although the word audit may sound time-consuming and even a little intimidating, it’s actually not all that involved.

You can do a basic content audit in as little as 1 hour.

While it may be a tad boring, it’s a great way to ensure your content is hitting its mark.

You can learn the basics in this guide from Quick Sprout.

24. Do an SEO audit

Just like you want to ensure that your content is in tip top shape, it’s also crucial to see what state your SEO is in from time to time.

Doing an SEO audit is a great way to get a glimpse of how things are performing.

More specifically, you can tell:

  • What your top organic keywords are
  • Whether there are any issues with meta descriptions, URL structure, etc.
  • How your domain ranks among the competition

image13

Check out this post from Search Engine Land to learn how to do your own SEO audit in only 5 minutes.

25. Check for dead links

Dead links aren’t cool.

They disrupt the user experience and can make your brand seem unprofessional.

That’s why I suggest checking for dead links every few months or so.

It’s no big deal.

Just use the Online Broken Link Checker.

It’s completely free, and it will give you the rundown of any broken links and identify their location on your site.

26. Do some internal linking

An internal link “is one that points to another page on the same website.”

Internal linking is a fundamental part of SEO and helps “spread link juice around your site.”

It’s a good idea to spend some time doing some internal linking if it’s something you’ve slacked on in the past.

Just make sure your links point to pages that are relevant and truly add to the reader experience.

27. Improve your email signature

Having an email signature that’s consistent with your company is an important aspect of branding.

Unfortunately, it’s sometimes overlooked.

If you really want to make a splash, add your logo along with a professional headshot.

Check out this infographic from Business 2 Community for the details on creating a killer email signature.

28. Fine-tune your sales funnel

Your sales funnel is the key to leading consumers through the buying process until they ultimately make a purchase.

image04

But if you’ve been using the same sales funnel for the past few years, some serious inefficiencies could be holding you back.

Why not spend a little time going over your existing sales funnel to check for areas that could use some improvement?

Conclusion

Amping up your marketing doesn’t always require exhaustive work sessions.

In fact, there are many business-boosting marketing activities you can do in 1 hour or less.

If you’ve got some downtime and want to devote it to marketing, any of these activities should be worth your while.

Can you think of any other marketing activities that don’t require a big time commitment?

How Any Digital Business Can Explode Using Word of Mouth Marketing

0

We live in a digital age.

Each day we’re bombarded with an endless stream of online ads via social media, websites, search engines, videos, and so on.

Marketing companies spend billions upon billions each year researching, analyzing, and pushing ads to consumers.

But you know what?

No matter how sophisticated and streamlined digital marketing becomes, it still pales in comparison with the power of good old-fashioned word of mouth marketing (WOMM).

According to in-depth studies from Nielsen, “WOMM recommendations still remain the most credible.”

Just look at this graph that ranks consumers’ trust, depending on the form of advertising and the action it produces.

image02

Positioned right at the top as the number one trust factor is “recommendations from people I know.”

It heavily shapes consumers’ opinions on brands/products/services, and this is unlikely to ever change.

Here are a couple more stats that demonstrate the power of WOMM:

  • 74 percent of consumers identify WOMM as a key influencer in their purchasing decision.”
  • “WOMM has been shown to improve marketing effectiveness by up to 54 percent.”

Just think about it.

Would you feel more comfortable buying a product recommended by a close friend or by a marketing message shoved down your throat by some slick marketing guru?

I would bet the former.

The full impact

There’s another important detail I’d like to point out.

It has to do with the long-term impact of acquiring new customers through WOMM.

According to the Wharton School of Business,

a customer you acquire from WOM has a 16 – 25 percent higher lifetime value than those you acquire from other sources.

This means you’re far more likely to get repeat business from an individual who’s acquired through WOMM than otherwise.

They also have a higher likelihood of becoming brand advocates or even brand ambassadors.

Consumers trusting other consumers

And there’s one more thing.

You don’t necessarily need to have a person recommend your brand to someone they know directly to benefit from WOMM.

In fact, the overwhelming majority of consumers trust recommendations from other consumers.

According to Nielsen,

68 percent trust online opinions from other consumers, which is up 7 percent from 2007 and places online opinions as the third most trusted source of product information.

image04

Bright Local also reports,

88 percent of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.

image05

The way I look at it, old school WOMM has meshed with the digital age.

Many people now turn to other online consumers, whom they don’t actually know, to find out whether a brand is worth purchasing from.

If you can impress a handful of consumers and turn them into brand advocates, it can have a domino effect: they spread the word, which can lead to a surge in sales.

It can set off a chain reaction.

Have we forgotten about WOMM?

There’s a paragraph in a Forbes article I really like:

The problem is that for the last few years, marketers have been focused on ‘collecting’ instead of ‘connecting.’ In other words, brands are too caught up in collecting social media fans and they are forgetting to actually connect with them.

I think this really hits the nail on the head.

Many marketers (myself included) are guilty of it to some extent.

I feel we’ve gotten so caught up in the latest and greatest marketing techniques that we sometimes forget about what good business is founded on in the first place: relationships.

Before there was social media, SEO, PPC, or even radio/TV commercials, most businesses gained new customers from old school person-to-person recommendations.

But it’s never too late to cash in on WOMM.

However, it does require a slightly different approach from the one used in the past.

The great thing is there are some really potent resources and platforms out there to streamline WOMM and maximize its impact.

I’d now like to discuss some fundamental tactics you can use to make your digital business explode using WOMM in the modern age.

Focus on your core audience, not the masses

The first step to making this strategy work is to understand who your core audience is.

Founding editor of Wired Magazine, Kevin Kelly formulated what I think was a brilliant hypothesis in 2008—the 1,000 true fans theory.

His idea was that any artist, business, etc. could survive on having only 1,000 true fans and that “returns diminish as your fan base gets larger and larger.”

image03

In other words, you’re more likely to have success if you focus on gaining 1,000 true fans rather than tens of thousands, or even millions, of lukewarm fans.

Tim Ferriss has actually embraced this idea, and it has been a key part of his meteoric rise to fame.

Ferriss even talks about the concept of 1,000 true fans in-depth in his new book, Tools of Titans.

And I think this is a good approach to take in WOMM.

You’re far more likely to create brand advocates if you focus on truly connecting with your core audience rather than trying to appease the masses.

This basically goes back to Pareto’s 80/20 principle, which applies to many different areas of life and business.

The premise is that 80 percent of your customers account for 20 percent of your sales and 20 percent of your customers account for 80 percent of your sales.

What you need to do is put most of your attention on “wooing” the 20 percent and deepening your relationships with them.

If you stick with this game plan, your core audience should grow even stronger, and you’ll be creating the perfect environment for WOMM to take place.

Be authentic and transparent

I know saying something like this may sound a little generic and cliché, but it’s still very important.

I feel many brands are out of touch with their audiences, and they end up suffering for it in the long run.

I believe authenticity and transparency are two of the most vital traits a brand can possess.

Most people can spot any ounce of pretentiousness from a mile away.

And with so many sleazeballs out there today, most consumers have developed a sense of skepticism that isn’t easy to stamp out.

I also realize that simply telling you to be authentic and transparent is a little vague.

You might be asking: how exactly does one accomplish this?

Of course, this is a huge topic to tackle, but I really like these suggestions from Copyblogger on how to get your customers to like you and build trust:

image00

When it comes to transparency, it all boils down to being yourself and making it a point to engage with consumers.

You want to “humanize” your brand.

Check out this post from Vision Critical for more on this topic.

It highlights five specific brands that embraced transparency and found success as a result.

Leverage reviews

As I mentioned earlier, most consumers are receptive to online reviews and trust the opinions of other consumers even if they don’t know them directly.

If you can get your satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, you’re almost guaranteed to see a spike in sales.

So, I suggest doing everything within your power to encourage your satisfied customers to leave reviews.

This starts by “claiming” your business on some of the top review sites such as Google My Business, Angie’s List, and Yelp.

image06

I won’t go into all the details of this process, but I recommend you check out an article I wrote on NeilPatel.com on how to get more online reviews.

This will provide you with an in-depth look at and tips on how to make this strategy a success.

I also suggest looking at this post from HubSpot that talks about 19 online review sites that can help your business get more reviews and gain traction.

Add fuel to the fire with a referral program

If you really want to expedite your WOMM, consider implementing some sort of a referral program.

When done correctly, it can lead to an influx of new customers while giving your brand equity a nice boost.

Here is a great example of a referral program that got it right.

Several years ago, Dropbox started a referral program that offered customers up to 16GB of free storage for “inviting a friend” to join.

image01

What was the end result?

  • The refer-a-friend feature increased signups by 60 percent
  • Users sent 2.8 million direct referral invites
  • Dropbox went from 100k to 4 million users in just 15 months
  • This resulted in a 40x increase, or a doubling of users every 3 months

This just goes to show the power a referral program can have.

The key is to come up with some way to reward existing customers for referring your brand to a friend.

This could be a discount, freebie, cash back, or whatever.

As long as the reward has genuine value and isn’t going to kill your profit margins, it should work.

The specific reward program you’ll want to implement will depend largely on your industry or niche.

That’s why I suggest reading this post from Referral Candy.

It goes over 47 different referral programs that totally crushed it and should give you some ideas on coming up with an approach for your business.

I also recommend checking out this guide from Referral Rock, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know on the subject.

Conclusion

With all the cutting-edge, sleek, and sexy marketing techniques out there, WOMM sometimes gets overlooked these days.

And that’s unfortunate.

If you look at studies involving research on WOMM, it’s easy to see that it’s still alive and well.

In many ways, WOMM is more powerful than ever when you consider the ease with which consumers can share reviews with one another.

I know I usually find myself reading at least a couple of reviews before I purchase something on Amazon or especially before I book a spot on Airbnb.

The way I look at it, it’s never been easier to harness the power of WOMM than it is today.

It’s simply a matter of bringing this old school concept into the modern marketing era.

By using a handful of fundamental concepts like the ones I discussed, you can absolutely make your digital business explode using WOMM.

The best part is that many of the new customers you receive will be repeats and will even recommend your brand to their friends.

And this is the very definition of creating a sustainable business model.

How big of a role do you think WOMM plays in business today?